Independent Cinema - Reveries (2018) - Reviewed

The confusion, paranoia, and outright horror of adolescence is perhaps one of the most common traumatic ordeals of the human experience.  Sam Keeble's hypnotic sojourn, Reveries, juxtaposes the traditional elements of the young adult experience with a drug fueled neo-noir mystery.  Symbolism is paramount throughout, leading the viewer through a surreal serial killer story that doubles as a sly reminder that life, despite death and destruction, will always go on.  Featuring two outstanding lead performances, unsettling imagery, and a remarkably compact script, Reveries is an excellent example of concise independent film making. 

Sonny experiences a series of startling hallucinations, the result of which implicate him in the disappearance of fellow student.  Pursued by law enforcement, Sonny resolves to find the missing girl himself, not fully understanding the darkness that awaits him.  Benton Reid's subtle performance as Sonny is one of the film's many treasures.  In a role such as this, it would have been easy to go overboard, however Reid keeps everything grounded.  His obvious chemistry with co-star Callie Bussell is organic and refreshing while his fear is palpable.  Bussell is the perfect partner, using her considerable skills to elicit emotion from the viewer.  The lines of friendship and romance are playfully blurred throughout, and each actor does an amazing job at maintaining the mood.  

Keeble's cinematography is the centerpiece.  One of the most fascinating aspects is the use of camera angles.  Certain sequences are shot normally, with the subjects in close ups or wide shots, while others are shot with the camera askew, hearkening back to the roots of German Expressionism.  While there are elements of Donnie Darko and even Twin Peaks, interwoven throughout the film's 30-minute runtime, it is evident that while these things are influences, Keeble would rather homage than reproduce.  The optics are flooded with deep shadows, ominous reds, and unexpected flares of light, all reinforcing the head trip ambiance that pervades every frame.  The miracle of the story is in its summation, with Keeble's taught direction bringing visual and narrative elements together to reveal the heart of the story:  While there is confusion and anxiety, ultimately, things will get better, and Sonny's story begins just as it ends.  

Keeble also edited and scored the film.  The final result is a remarkable sophomore effort that showcases an artist with a tremendous amount of talent.  Hopefully coming to a festival near you soon, Reveries is a darkly magical journey filled with puzzles and  Easter eggs for the astute viewer to devour. 

--Kyle Jonathan