REVIEW: PLASTIC (2010)
Starring: North Roberts, Colleen Boag, Matthew E. Prochazka, Christian Gray, Laura Locascio.
Genre: Horror / Thriller
MPPA: Unrated, but it’s not for kids.
Score: 8/10 – See it.
Reviewed by: Stuart Wahlin, a/k/a The Reelist
There’s a record heat wave in Chicago, and to make matters worse, waste collection has been halted during a municipal labor dispute. But in Albert Mullin’s neighborhood, bodies are piling up faster than garbage.
Welcome to Plastic, a film by Jose Carlos Gomez (Bled White, 2011), who masterfully wrote, directed, and shot this effective tale of serial murder. But it’s more than that, of course. Too often, indie horror films lack dimension. Plastic, with its wise casting and engaging subplot, doesn’t suffer from such symptoms.
North Roberts, a two-time Best Actor recipient recently on the festival circuit, delivers a chilling and memorable performance as Albert Mullin, a reclusive parolee trying to keep his murderous habits a secret. But with record heat, exacerbated by a lack of garbage collection, Mullin’s finding it difficult to hide things from a nosy neighbor (aptly played by Christian Gray).
As Mullin, Roberts showcases a fantastic range in his exploration of the complex character. Really top-notch stuff. I see in him the charisma of James Dean and Marlon Brando rolled into one. He’s got one of those grins that really disarms you. His ability to emote, whether delivering lines or not, is remarkable. You don’t even get to hear him speak until nearly 25 minutes after he’s introduced during the opening scene. I commend Gomez for making that choice. When Roberts finally speaks as Mullin, you cling to his every word for the rest of the film.
The monologues Roberts delivers are absolutely marvelous. He is able to formidably sell the insane side of Mullin, while also retaining the delicious nuances of humanity necessary for the story to work so well. In a just world, Roberts would have been in contention for an Oscar for his remarkable performance. He’s not a one-trick pony, though. I think the guy can probably nail any role he’s faced with. As a matter of disclosure, I’m happy to report he’s been cast in a prominent role in my next film, Slay Utterly.
Roberts and Gomez are obviously kindred spirits, having also worked together on zombie flick Bled White and the highly-anticipated Chop Shop horror anthology, which also features directors John Wesley Norton (another personal favorite), Tony Wash, and Ben Lewandowski. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly approve of the Gomez-Roberts pairing, and I can’t wait to see what these guys deliver together in the future. I’d say they’re batting perfect so far.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge strong performances by Alex Gonzalez and Matthew E. Prochazka. The two share a couple memorable scenes, with Gonzalez playing a connected hood dealing with a crooked probation officer (Prochazka). Gonzalez nails the role of Memo. Meantime, like Roberts, Prochazka ‘s character required a range of emotion, and he was able to deliver where many indie actors would fall flat. Prochazka is also instrumental in driving the well-developed subplot.
Although appearing in only one scene as Prochazka’s boss, versatile actor Walt Sloan kept performance standards high. He’s got chops, too.
Now for the ladies. Colleen Boag, as Mullin’s captive, showed real courage in accepting a role in which she’d be gagged for most of the story. Her acting prowess, despite her lack of dialogue, was truly an asset to the film. If I had to guess, I’d say she’s way more than just the scream queen type. Too many actors lose their characters in the words. Boag told a story with her eyes. Well done, young lady.
Laura Locascio delivers a supporting role as Kate, the disillusioned wife of out-of-work nosy neighbor Darryl (Gray), who thinks all his woes began when Mullin moved in next door. Locascio, also executive producer of the film, shares some moments of good chemistry with Gray.
Nestled in the subplot, Iris Kohn is memorable as Prochazka’s married mistress, who fears she’s pregnant, causing her crooked-cop lover to resort to drastic measures in order to protect his marriage to the mayor’s daughter.
Often, viewing audiences take for granted the musical compositions that help move a story forward, punctuate a scene, or set the mood. D.C. McAuliffe, who scored the film, earns high marks here, too.
In indie films, it’s not uncommon to see people trying too hard, whether that’s in terms of acting, cinematography, effects, etc. Plastic, as a whole, is really an exercise in understatement, and I like that. In Plastic, you don’t see the overacting, the clichés, or the otherwise overly-ambitious attempts that derail too many other productions.
Gomez told me Plastic’s principle production budget was only around $20,000. That’s nothing, but he made it look like a hell-of-a-lot more cinematographically, delivering some really nice camera movements on a shoestring budget.
What I especially like about Gomez’s unique style is that he’s not afraid to tip his hat to the filmmakers and movies that inspired him to become the remarkable visual storyteller he is today. Plastic is full of such stylistic nods, though Gomez is still able to clearly articulate his own authentic cinematic voice.
Plastic and Bled White are being offered on-demand by a variety of providers through March 4. Both are also available on DVD as part of horror anthologies.