★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
This guy’s got more than skeletons in his closet.
I’m not talking about skipping dessert so you don’t feel guilty drinking that 3rd margarita. I’m talking about actual, throw-the-virgin-in-the-volcano sacrifice. The Incas did it. The Celts did it. Even Jack Palance did it in Craze (1974) and he could do one-armed push ups. In writer/director F.C. Rabbath’s latest offering, A Brilliant Monster, sacrifice is the name of the game.
Mitch Stockridge [Dennis Friebe; Savannah Sunrise (2016), TV’s La Fleur De Mai (2014-2016)] is an author of self-help books whose career is taking off. He’ll soon be rocketing into the self-actualized stratosphere and rubbing elbows with the likes of Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, and Jim Jones. That is, as long as the ideas keep coming and, unfortunately for pretty much everyone around him, Mitch is willing to sacrifice almost anything to ensure that they do.
Reminiscent of The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) mixed with a dash of Deep Dark (2015), Rabbath’s film had me hooked from the get-go. Why is an author wiping down the inside of a truck while wearing a cleansuit and latex gloves? Why is his ex-girlfriend, Sophie [Alea Figueroa; Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015), TV’s Ballers (2015)], telling the cops about him in a police interrogation room? Just like Detective Logan [Bill Kelly; TV’s Mr. Mercedes (2017)], I had a hard time believing what she said but, in my heart of hearts, I was secretly wanting to believe every word. Much like Detective Abby Dunn [Joy Kigin; TV’s I am Frankie (2017), Netflix’s House of Cards (2016)] who more or less accepted Sophie’s story and ran with the investigation.
This is definitely a movie to watch without spoilers, so I’m attempting to do my best tap dancing around them. Fred Astaire eat your heart out. Suffice it to say the trailer only tells half the story. The rest? I encourage you to see for yourself.
Keep in mind that A Brilliant Monster is still an independent film (i.e., they weren’t sleeping on mattresses stuffed with Benjamins). Sound quality slips in a couple of places, some of the supporting actors maybe aren’t the most convincing, and I could probably count the special effects on the same number of fingers it takes to flash the peace sign. I mean, aside from the very simple ones used to bring the best character in the movie to life. Errr… but also no spoilers!
I found the midriff of the film to be a wee bit flabby and in need of some slight nipping and tucking, but who among us couldn’t use that, am I right? I was also genuinely confused by Detective Abby’s boxing scene. It seemed to go on for longer than it needed to and she seemed way too ecstatic about knocking her trainer unconscious. What do I know, though, maybe that guy was a real jerk. However, I thought the rest of that associated montage was very well done.
To be clear, I point these things out only to justify my rating. You shouldn’t dwell on the negatives, but embrace the positives. All of the primary actors did a great job. The story — which is what drew me to this movie in the first place — was well told and the occasional injection of flashbacks keeps you on your toes in a good way. If I’m being perfectly honest, I was initially worried about the ending once things started winding down. “How could Rabbath end things like this?” I groaned. After watching the last frame, though, I have to agree with how things flowed. I kinda wish the film had turned out differently for Mitch, but hey. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
A Brilliant Monster is still being submitted to other festivals so there’s no schedule I can give you there. But! If you’re going to be anywhere near the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on June 16th at 11:45pm, you should definitely catch its world premiere as part of the 21st annual Dances With Films film festival.
And take my advice. If you do show up… try not to look too appetizing.