Directed by: Scott Milder
Starring John Hardy, Lauren Myers, and Frank Taylor Green.
Indie Film Review by Bailey Claringbold
Calliope (Lauren Myers) is content in her relationship with Roy (Frank Taylor Green). When she suddenly suffers from a seizure, distant memories of a veteran named Billy (John Hardy) begin to surface. However, these are much more than recollections, they are violent parts of Callie's past.
From Dead Billy's description and it's opening credits, blasting out a thumping rock song, I was initially very intrigued by this indie film. I regret to say that after ten minutes or so I lost that enthusiasm.
The performances were rather brilliant throughout the film. All of the main cast conveyed distress and confusion well, a key emotion throughout. I admired Myers's role, she was clearly a tortured soul, and she was definitely the character that I connected to the most from her performance. That being said, Hardy also brought his A-game as Billy, he made me feel uncomfortable at times and was an excellent casting choice. The intense acting was certainly the most powerful aspect of the film, as this is the sole element that kept my interest.
This was also a decent looking film with a muted colour palette of browns and earthy colours, adding to the maturity of the story. The locations helped to keep it gritty and grounded, for example Callie and Billy's casual flats. I particularly liked one of the earliest flashback scenes, in which television static is utilised to represent Calliope watching the memory back which was a clever and well designed visual.
However, the screenplay and narrative just did not cut it for me. Towards the beginning there was some compelling character development and the opening sequences piqued my curiosity, I enjoyed seeing the tension between Roy and Calliope as Billy was introduced into the mix. After the first few flashbacks, the narrative really started to face some pacing issues. Although the slow dialogue may have been intentional to make it more suspenseful and the slow progression may have been to make it seem more like real time, there was just something stopping it from keeping my interest. Comparing it to say Prisoners (2013), another psychological thriller with brutal and severe themes, Prisoners had more compelling dialogue and characters to help push the film along, whilst keeping that real time approach. Even though the concept behind Dead Billy is well thought out, its execution left something to be desired.
With some fantastic performances and direction, Dead Billy looked promising. However, the pacing and the narrative kept this from being the film that it could have been.