In the early 1990s, a 32-year-old psychotherapist began to suspect that his small Arizona community was being taken over by a homicidal religious cult known as “The Bryans”. His entire ordeal was captured on camcorder footage and security tapes. They are the video musings of a highly disturbed young man. This is what was recovered.
I’m not sure if I really have a slogan, but on the occasions that I’ve entertained one, one I’ve always come back to is “I like everything.” And, I really do… normally. As an artsy fartsy chump myself, I love to try to take into consideration budget and other “factors of movie magic reality” while critiquing a flick. But, every once in a while a movie or show comes along that challenges my “I like everything” mahantra. “Bryan Loves You” is one of those.
On paper, “Bryan Loves You” looks pretty good. It’s in a found footage format which helps with its extreme low budget. It has cool looking posters and cover art thanks to the masks. It has Tony Todd and George Wendt in it. It’s about cultists, and you know how I love me some culties.
But when you watch it, all of that immediately breaks down.
First off, it’s weird to have a found footage film with big name actors, at least big in the small world of horror films. The opening starts with Tony Todd and while Tony Todd is a great actor with some great roles under his belt, he is first and foremost an actor. Nothing dispels the found footage illusion like having the first face you see being the Wishmaster or Candyman.
Ultimately, what really sells found footage is natural acting. I don’t really like to shit on anything in particular when it comes to acting because there are a lot of variables. With acting you gotta ask yourself a few questions:
- How many takes were there? Or, in the case of found footage, how much footage was there to work with?
- Was the acting okay and was the damage really done through editing? This is one people overlook a lot. As a music maker, a great parallel example of this is overdoing it with the deesser. You can take a totally normal sounding voice and give it one hell of a lisp with the turn of the nob.
- How about the script? Is the issue in the script?
- And a whole lot more…
If I had to guess, the problem with this one would be not enough footage. Probably due to a low budget, the movie was likely over scripted not allowing for the ad libbing and massive amounts of footage that are really needed for a found footage flick.
In the end I really only have one major complaint. They laid out a larger story that they never delivered on… like not at all. Just when we think we’re going to get some explanation, the whole thing flips to a psych ward. Personally, I need a Bryan Loves You Chapter 2 just to explain the Devil killing Bryan and the whole back story behind the cult. I know, the answer is probably buried in the flick somewhere, but Jesus, make it less painful to look for.
So, should you watch it? Depends on who you are. If you’r ‘re like me and you kinda like everything, the answer is “Yes”. If you’re like the other 99.99% of the world’s population, you should probably stay away.
More cogitations on 2008’s Bryan Loves You:
- Thank me because I watched this so you don’t have to.
- Jesus, halfway through the movie George Wendt walks in. How’d they get these people for this flick?
- It does have Lloyd Kauffman in it, but that makes sense.