Reviews: Deadly Famous

Mr. Mike reviews this month's horrific release, Deadly Famous. 

Great! Meatloaf again.
I refuse.
Working for a growing movie review site means watching a lot of screeners.  Many of these are low budget films that likely will never be seen in a theater apart from the odd film festival, and with a dwindling number of remaining brick-&-mortar video stores left, they'll likely languish for all of eternity in VOD or streaming purgatory.  If you watch enough of them (and you'll watch more than plenty), you begin to notice patterns or common themes.  For instance, a great deal of them seem to be at their core about either trying to make it in Hollywood or dealing with failure there.  There are unique takes on this material spanning every genre known to filmmaking.  The film Deadly Famous takes on one of the more unique approaches to this particular brand of meta-filmmaking.

Deadly Famous uses a cinema verite style to tell the story of Alan Miller (Daniel O'Meara), a former child star turned struggling actor.  He films every moment of his life, fancying himself an acting teacher and director, to lure young aspiring actresses into his home to "practice line reads"--at least, until things get a bit too real.  Through Alan's own cameras we watch his descent from merely creepy to full-on raging homicidal maniac.  All things considered it’s a pretty interesting premise for a film, but unfortunately here it proves a bit problematic.

It's shoulder massage time!
You know what that means.
O'Meara is effective as the psychotic Alan, effortlessly bridging the gap from merely lecherous to full-on terrifying.  In fact, he's perhaps a bit too good at making the viewer feel uncomfortable.  The problem is that Alan is a bit one-dimensional, which is the worst thing a character like this in a movie like this can be.  He's reduced to mainly being the creepy bad guy in a torture porn movie,  This may not even be that accurate of a description, seeing as how most torture porn villains at least appear to have something resembling a motive.  Alan is a truly, deeply evil character that lacks the necessary depth to elevate himself above the surprisingly tight but difficult to watch movie that contains him. 

The cinema verite format does Deadly Famous a service, in that it attempts to provide a clever, interesting twist on both the horror genre and the "struggling actor" indie movie stereotype.  The film unfortunately is never quite able to rise to its big ideas.  It's not for lack of trying on O'Meara's part, but the film and his character ultimately fail him.  Deadly Famous could have been something unique and twisted, but in the end combining a mediocre horror screener with a mediocre "struggling in Hollywood" screener just led to more mediocrity.

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-Mike Stec