Written & Directed by Merlin Dervisevic
Available on Netflix
Welcome movie fans! Feind caught an Indie film recently that is a wonderful mix of genres from horror to drama to sci-fi to fantasy making it a little hard to categorize but how well did the mixture work. Was it divine or...
Cruel & Unusual (2014)
Written & Directed by Merlin Dervisevic
Available on Netflix
A few nights ago I was up late and didn't feel like writing anything so I perused Netflix for something to grab my attention. I've been doing that a little more often recently so I'm behind on films to share with you but I'll get to them all eventually. Cruel & Unusual was in the "thriller" or maybe it was the "suspenseful" category I really don't remember which but the tiny description sounded like an interesting enough premise, a prison of the mind, so I gave it a shot. I'd also like to shoot Netflix a little praise here as being an excellent outlet for Indie films. It may take them some time to find their way onto Netflix but they really do put up several really good ones (yes, Netflix I will gladly accept a paid endorsement, just sayin!). So anyway about the movie...
The description of Cruel & Unusual was something along the lines of, "A man finds himself in prison but what if he didn't actually kill his wife. Can he make it out of a hallucinatory prison." That isn't even close to verbatim but you get the idea. I'll warn you slightly here as Cruel & Unusual is one you have to stick with for a bit as you really have no real clue WTF is going on at first which is how you're supposed to feel because that is exactly how our main character Edgar (David Richmond-Peck) is feeling. The film starts with what looks like Edgar desperately trying to call 9-1-1 for a woman (we find out a little later this is his wife) who looks to have been stabbed but passes out from his own injuries before he can. Edgar then wakes up in some sort of prison/mental ward apparently convicted of killing his wife, Maylon (Bernadette Saquibal) though he has no recollection of a trial. The "prison" doesn't appear to have any guards merely PA speakers and guards or wardens giving directions on TV screens. Weird right? That's exactly what Edgar feels as he tries to figure why he is here and how in the hell he got there. He realizes quickly that he seems to be surrounded by criminals and that he is presumed to have killed his wife. Edgar protests which gets him sent to his cell where things get profoundly weirder.
On the way back to his cell Edgar wonders about, like I said there are no guards, finding a stairwell which leads him to a tiny basement room where there is nothing but a table with another TV on it. The man on the screen tells him he isn't supposed to be there and to go back to his cell which Edgar does eventually. Once inside his cell Edgar finds himself reliving the events that led him to this prison. The "visions" are innocuous at first with Edgar believing he is innocent... but is he? As the visions (memories) show Edgar more and more he finds he isn't exactly happy to remember everything from before he found himself in this prison. As more and more is revealed Edgar comes to the realization that he may not be innocent after all. Along the way he befriends some fellow inmates, William (Richard Harmon) who admits killing his parents, Julien (Michael Eklund) who killed his wife in an alcoholic rage and Doris (Michelle Harrison) who we eventually learn committed suicide unintentionally in front of her own children. But wait doesn't that mean Doris is dead? Now you start to see the existential journey that Cruel & Unusual is taking you on though you should get there ahead of the film revealing it if you're paying attention. Cruel & Unusual is a depiction of purgatory and a very well done depiction at that.
Don't worry I haven't really spoiled anything since you realize Edgar is in purgatory fairly quickly. Edgar along with the other "inmates" is forced to relive his crime and face his victim over and over and over again for all eternity. Is there anyway to escape purgatory though? That is where Cruel & Unusual really gets interesting as Edgar tries desperately to stop himself from killing his wife enlisting the help of Doris. Can Edgar be saved? Can Doris? You'll have to watch it to find out. I enjoy films that make me think and Cruel & Unusual is exactly that type of film. Kudos to Merlin Dervisevic for not only a very well directed film but also an extremely well written one. The acting is excellent making you care about the characters as their stories have several layers and the depth of character development is impressive. Questions like, "Is Redemption possible?" and "Would you want to be redeemed for doing something horrible?" are explored very well and even with the answers supplied in the film you are still able to form your own opinion on them. If you like a film that is both entertainingly interesting and makes you think about things you may not otherwise like to think about then Cruel & Unusual is the film for you. Those are some of my favorite qualities in a film so you can guess I thought this one was absolutely excellent. One of the better Indies you can watch which makes Cruel & Unusual... The SHIT!!!
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Have you seen this excellent Indie film? What did you think? If you have yet to see have I convinced you to check it out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
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