What can I say? The role of B.J. Lang is easiest the strangest thing I've ever watched actor Mickey Rooney tackle. He does an excellent job, I think, of playing the deranged make-up artist turned director in his own mind. I say, "I think", because at times the audio in the movie is uneven and I missed quite a few lines. At times it also just lost my interest too. If you're not ready for a dialogue driven movie that creates suspense through isolation and the threat of violence rather than all out gore and carnage, then this isn't the flick for you.
B.J. Lang has taken Carlotta (Luana Anders ) hostage and is forcing her to act in a movie that is being produced in his own mind. She is tied to a wheelchair a good portion of the time and his crew and other cast members are mostly mannequins, lightstands and empty costumes. If you've ever worked on a truly low budget production, the director speaking to a lightstand might not strike you as strange right away.
Although slow moving at times the movie does occasionally manage to create some tension. For example, we see Lang feeding Carlotta baby food and realize that, because she is tied to a chair and in an isolated warehouse, she is completely dependant on Lang for her survival. Later, when it appears that the madman is having a heart attack or suffering some other serious ailment we realize that unless Carlotta saves him she'll slowly starve to death. It's a gripping scene and done very well by both actors.
Unfortunately, the golden moments are mixed in with chase sequences that appear to have been shot entirely overcranked creating a sharp, but monotonous, slow motion effect. The movie is about 90 minutes and easily could have played well as an 80 minute piece had one of these sequences been cut short or shot/edited at a more normal speed. Of course, some undercranked stuff balances it all out.
We're also "treated" to glimpses into B.J. Lang's past through a series of surreal flashbacks that tell us a bit about the character. But some of them are so bizarre that I missed the message they were trying to convey. Maybe I should have had more to drink or smoked something before watching this one.
Keenan Wynn makes a short appearance that helps cement the danger that Carlotta is actually in at the hands of Lang. It would have been nice to see more of Wynn. The scene seemed rushed, but it served its purpose.
All in all this is an interesting look at an isolation movie being carried by dialogue, imagery and characterization. It's a good movie for budding filmmakers to watch. With one major location and only two leads it manages to take the audience for a 90 minute ride. Could have been shorter. Could have made a bit more sense at times, but as a descent into madness it definitely works.
Worth seeing just for the oddity of Mickey Rooney playing such a dark, strange character.
P.S. The "uneven" audio is not so much bad audio as the movie switching from screaming to whispering and back again, so that some of the whispered lines were lost. Had I turned the screams up a bit I probably wouldn't have had trouble hearing it, but I was watching this pretty early in the morning and I didn't want to wake the neighbors.