Film Review: Flytrap

Boxing Helena meets Under the Skin with a Twilight Zone after-taste, in Stephen David Brooks’ micro-budget 2016 black sci-fi comedy, Flytrap. Jeremy Crutchley (TVs The Blacklist) stars as James Pond, a British ex-pat and astronomy professor whose car inexplicably breaks down in the deep ‘burbs on his way to his new job at UCLA. For some reason, his cell also stops working. At a loss, he reluctantly knocks on the door of the only person who seems home in the area. A comely but odd woman named Mary Ann (Ina-Alice Kopp) invites him in with a glass of wine ready at the ready. But her aggressive hospitality soon turns sinister when James realizes he can’t leave.

At first, Mary Ann claims she’s alone but it’s not long before James meets her roommates, Gilligan (Jonah Blechman, This Boy’s Life) and the Skipper. When James snarkily inquires about Ginger, Mary Ann tells him straight-faced that the Skipper dealt with her when she tried to leave. At this point, James starts to suspect that he may have fallen into some sort of death cult in the midst of their final countdown. All of the fearless crew are stoic, stiff, and dead-eyed. They clearly have some sort of agenda, and it ain’t making a radio out of a coconut.

Brooks’ script is not particularly strong, but Flytrap captivates thanks to a game cast. Kopp is especially adept at maintaining an other-worldly presence. Crutchley projects an affably pompous demeanor as he bumbles his way through his strange captivity. No one has ever looked more threatening in a Hawaiian shirt than Jonah Blechman.

One cast member who gets the short shrift is Billy “Sly” Williams as James’ friend and colleague, Rondell. He mostly stares perplexedly at his phone whilst attempting to reach James. Tragically, no one else calls Rondell during the days James is missing, as evidenced by one shot of his empty incoming call records.

Brooks doesn’t do much to develop his characters but the 80-minute film is heavy on plot and James’ captors are strange and sinister enough to hold one’s attention. We don’t know what these people are capable of, but their threat feels limitless. Likewise, we don’t know James well enough to guess at the parameters of his self-preservation. He claims to be a gentle, non-violent type but there are times he appears to be unraveling under duress.

Flytrap had a brief festival tour in 2016 and is now available on VOD at Amazon and Tubi among other services.


Hammer to Nail Review: Circle

(The 2015 Seattle International Film Festival started May 14 and ran all the way until June 7. HtN was on the scene and a festival wrap-up is coming later this week. In the meantime, check out this review of Circle, the latest from filmmakers Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione).

Circle is the most fun you can have watching a diverse group of strangers get systematically executed. Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione crafted a shrewd script for their Twilight Zone inspired morality tale about fifty people who are forced to stop being polite and start getting judgmental.

It begins with everyone returning to consciousness after a blackout, to discover that they are standing in a circle, facing each other, in a dark room. They soon learn that they cannot move too much or try to step off the red dots under their feet, lest a machine in the middle of the room electrocutes them. And that’s not even the bad news. Every two minutes, the machine also kills one person at random. They can’t stop the death, but they do have the power to choose the next victim by popular vote. There are other rules and nuances that they ascertain along the way, all of which play into their harrowing discussion about who should be the next to die and if “winning” this sadistic game is even an option…

Read the rest on Hammer to Nail!