Short Film Review: THE GREGGS

2014 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS SELECTION!
Unrated
20 minutes

**

“The Greggs” is an insane fever dream that hypothesizes about the people who create standardized tests. In this universe, the test scribes live together in relative seclusion, inspired by a cult-like figurehead, The Gregg, represented by an old timey oil painting.

And that’s not the weirdest thing about them. There are two men and two women who refer to each other only as Gregg. They don a genderless wardrobe consisting of brightly colored turtlenecks, short blonde wigs and rosy cheeks. They subsist solely on eggs, delivered to them by the gruff woman who picks up the tests.

This is a lot to establish, and it feels rushed in a short format (not that I would want to explore “The Greggs” at feature-length, necessarily). Things start out batshit and only get batshittier as the Gregg portrait mysteriously vanishes and they feel abandoned by their figurehead. After a while, the scenes start to feel like random irreverence, rather than a cohesive narrative.

This may have something to do with the fact that there are seven people listed as director, and four of them are principal actors. There are also three directors of photography, but only one writer (Bruce Bundy). Call me old fashioned, but while collaboration is great, you should still only have one person steering the boat. Who knows, maybe “The Greggs” did have an unofficial leader, but it does feel like a too-many-cooks production.

In addition to the narrative chaos, there is also a vaguely “Napoleon Dynamite” sense of humor present that will certainly divide audiences. I will give them this much: the actors all commit to this project whole hog. It’s that level of commitment that keeps it from falling apart completely. Twenty minutes is a long time to spend with these characters, but I think you can probably tell by the five-minute mark whether or not you want to stick around.

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

 

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