As an aspiring film maker myself, it gets harder and harder for me to do these Indie film reviews. It's a monumental amount of work that goes into making a film that I've witnessed first hand. Not only that but to then turn around and put it out to the public is tantamount to ripping your chest open and exposing your heart to people that may or may not accept and appreciate what you've done. I have a huge amount of respect for people that can pull a film together so it's really tough when someone submits something that they're so passionate about then you as a reviewer have to pull it apart and critique it. I don't make any apologies for my reviews, I call them like I see them and I'm fairly certain that anyone who has ever read my stuff is fully aware of that fact. BUT, that still doesn't make my job any easier.
This is normally the part of my review where I give a synopsis of the film but I'm going to forgo that this time because it's a rather complex plot and I don't want to spoil it in any way. Brutal is the kind of film that knowing too much when you're going in will ruin it for you. So you'll just have to watch it to find out what it's about.
The performances in Brutal were way above par for an Indie film. Michael Baldwin, who's been out of the circuit for twelve years now, gives a stunning performance as Carl Gibson, the target of Brutal's (Michael Patrick Stevens) rage. He embodies the character with ease and delivers the angst and desperation in such a believable way that it doesn't take long for the viewer to connect with him. Stevens, who also wrote and directed the film, was phenomenal as Brutal. He played menacing and murderous frighteningly well. Did I also mention that this is his film making debut?? To watch it, you'd never know it. There's a lot of actors in this film but for the most part they are just briefly on screen so instead of going through one by one, I'll just say that every single one of them did a fantastic job.
Stevens definitely has a talent for film making. The dialogue (especially towards the end) was very well written and fit perfectly with each scene. A film can suffer from really bad dialogue but that never happens here. He also did a great job directing this film. Most of the film takes place in a small cramped basement and the mood that Stevens set here is nothing short of claustrophobic. It's frightening to try and wrap your brain around the evil that is happening in this tiny space. The images that we're given make us want to look away but you just can't bring yourself to do it because it's just that good. The effects are done very well and it's so great to see a film maker use practical effects. It takes more time and attention to detail but it's so worth it when the end result is one like that of Brutal.
Alan Howarth created an original score for this film that is to die for. It's creepy and foreboding and ominous and every other scary word you can imagine. It does exactly what it's suppose to do which is accompany the scene and help propel the story forward without over powering it.
At first glance, this will seem like your average Hostel type torture porn film but it is so much more than that. Stevens gives the audience what they want but then goes ten steps further and gives you something completely unexpected from a film like this. It's great to see such hard work pay off in such an amazing way and I am so in love with this film that I will sing it's praises to whoever will listen. I know it's been a hard road for Stevens and his crew but I have confidence that audiences will watch this film and love it as much as I do. Great work guys!!!