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Brenda and Billy and the Pothos Plant

average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Olson


Posted on:

May 12, 2023

Film Reviews
Brenda and Billy and the Pothos Plant
Directed by:
Dave Solomon
Written by:
Dave Solomon
Sarah Stiles, Santino Fontana, Beethovan Oden

A Freudian buffet, filmmaker Dave Solomon’s short comedy film Brenda and Billy and the Pothos Plant captures the rarely explored urge for daughters to kill their mothers with deadpan wit and impressive physical comedy.

Sarah Stiles plays the titular Brenda and our Oedipal assassin, who is driven to murder her mother in her New York apartment with a frying pan when she cannot take any more criticism. She calls her brother Billy (Santino Fontana) - a magician from Las Vegas - to help her dispose of the body and avoid detection from the cops (Beethovan Oden).

Solomon peppers his script with painfully funny moments of dry indifference from the siblings that their mother is lying bloody and dead in a nearby bedroom. Whilst Brenda does seem anxious about the situation, it seems to be more about her avoiding detection than any maternal loss she has just experienced. One genuinely brilliant throwaway line sees Brenda regale Billy with the criticism their mother was giving her moments before the “slip and fall”, about her lack of everything, including “empathy” - a nod of the head to the audience that could almost slip under the radar.

Billy seems more preoccupied with Brenda’s methods than with any sorrow for his mother either, acting like a cool detective and fixer. The arrival of an officer who is called to investigate the loud noises coming from Brenda’s apartment amps up the tension somewhat and is also the catalyst for us to find out more about Billy, with a few interesting secrets being revealed.

The sequence where we see the actual moments of their mother’s murder (frying pan, vomit and spurting neck injury) is terrifically executed, akin to an Edgar Wright quick edit. There are other great filmmaking moments, such as a brilliantly framed shot of the siblings on a park bench (as seen above) or Brenda’s maniacal bashing that was so good it was added again to the end of the credits! The vomiting was particularly fun to watch too, reminiscent of the classic UK comedy Bottom.

The chemistry between Stiles and Fontana works well. Her passionate energy is duly softened by his calm nonchalance. This could easily work as a comedy series. Exploring Billy’s hatred for David Blaine alone would be worth a few episodes.

Brenda and Billy and the Pothos Plant is full of zany charm and likeable characters and it is in the physical comedy where it really peaks. Not enough filmmakers value practical effects when it comes to on-screen vomit but Solomon gives it its day in the sun.

About the Film Critic
Chris Olson
Chris Olson
Short Film
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