Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a horror film that follows the still-at-large crimes of a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.
Serial killers are fascinating. Always have been. That’s clear from the seemingly countless number of books, television shows and films that center on glorifying, if not romanticizing, murderers. Who are these people? How do they do what they do? Why do they do it? The answers are never easy, if even possible. So it is with Colin Bemis‘ latest chiller Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a disturbing look into the mind of a coldblooded killer and two men entangled in his descent.
Struggling and frustrated documentary filmmakers Errol Morgan (Nicholas Urda) and Ellis Archer (Andres Montejo) – needing a film to grab attention – set about to shine some light on a recently released serial killer who spent nine of sixteen years in prison. His name is Noel Rose (Aidan Bristow), a stoic sociopath who, they discover weeks into their film, has lied. He is not recently released, as he claimed, but in fact never incarcerated, an at-large homicidal murderer who has very carefully avoided capture. Thinking the opportunity to shadow an actual killer too good to pass up, Errol and Ellis make a tough choice and stick with filming, finding that decision one they soon come to regret.
Stitched together like a found footage film, Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a talky movie with characters often speaking to each other or directly at the screen in front of a static camera. It reaches for existential dialogue on the state of reality entertainment and the role of the documentarian, as characters discuss and dissect – often in efforts to justify their film – what Noel is, why he does what he does, and their participation in filming him. It is not a traditional ‘horror’ film per se, sticking mostly to characterization with the three leads spending a lot of time contemplating what they are doing, though that doesn’t lessen any of the fear it often inspires.
Bemis, in his feature length debut, is clearly taking some shots at the media’s obsession with people like Noel, prodding us to consider the validity of unfettered access to the inner workings of a person that is, in no uncertain terms, a dealer in death. These are not musings on headlines and social media hashtags related to these crimes but often extended commentary on a disturbed man’s internal ruminations and the fragile responsibility of journalism covering it. Noel exposits on childhood memories, the meanings of Hanson lyrics and his relationship to his brother, keeping Errol and Ellis baited throughout, constantly in a tug of war over the film they are making and its toll on themselves. When they admit they have become part of the story, Bemis is at his sharpest in questioning the documentarian’s role.
Where the film loses a bit of momentum is in the strict narrative choice the found footage element limits it to, with the film constricted, like many in the genre, to the fixed cameras of the interview and the planted Go-Pros. This severely reduces the action, with almost the entire film just still shots of Noel, Ellis and Errol talking with each other, though some action in the last act helps to break this trend. Nonetheless, Bristow carries the film, the burden all his in convincing us that Noel is who he is. From a jarring opening sequence to his steady escalation after, this is a distressing character teetering on the lip of madness, keeping us on edge before leading to a violent and troubling end.
While some might not embrace the often meandering feel to how Errol and Ellis take to their subject, Bremis seems purposeful in doing so, the naivety of the novice documentarians and their abandonment of common sense in the name of possible fame clouding their judgment and safety. This is the takeaway and helps make Strawberry Flavored Plastic a kind of statement on our ceaseless thirst for carnage, Bremis doing so not with buckets of blood but rather a study on personalities motivated by darkness.
Strawberry Flavored Plastic will be available on January 23rd on Amazon.
Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Movie description: STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC IS A HORROR FILM THAT FOLLOWS THE STILL-AT-LARGE CRIMES OF A REPENTANT, CLASSY AND CHARMING SERIAL KILLER LOOSE IN THE SUBURBS OF NEW YORK.
Director(s): Colin Bemis
Actor(s): Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo