My Father Die, 2016
Written and directed by Sean Brosnan
Starring Joe Anderson, Gary Stretch, Candace Smith, John Schneider, Kevin Gage
Deaf and mute since having his hearing knocked out at the age of 12, Asher has been training for almost two decades to avenge himself on Ivan, the man that killed his older brother, 21 years ago. And now that his nemesis is out of prison, he gets his chance. But Asher’s target also happens to be his father.
The family revenge thriller has been done to death (no pun intended), but Sean Brosnan’s debut feature My Father Die is a step above the rest. With three outstanding central performances, a fantastic score and incredible drama, My Father Die might be one of the best movies of 2016.
Brosnan presents parts of My Father Die as if it was a student art art film, but it isn’t distracting as some others who use the same techniques as his vision never feels pretentious. His flashbacks are shot in black and white with spats if red, and they’re often shown without sound or context – which is again nothing new – but Brosnan somehow makes them all feel fresh, and they all tie into the central narrative and theme. Like The Babadook, Blair Witch and The Conjuring 2, Brosnan uses sound design to great effect. He cuts the sound out almost too early in certain moments and some music cues end incredibly abruptly, but they mirror Asher’s deafness and it creates an intriguing style that draws you in further. There are some tough scenes to sit through in My Father Die, and they’re made all the worse by the sound mix.
And boy howdy, My Father Die is a tough watch at times. Brosnan isn’t afraid to hold back in his script, and his visceral direction reflects that. It doesn’t matter if we’re supposed to cheer for a character like Asher or boo someone like Ivan, Brosnan paints them with the same blood red brush. What raises the bar is that My Father Die never uses violence or sexual violence as a tool to shock, but as an implement to further his story and characters. Asher doesn’t want to be like his father, and Ivan is out for more than just bloody revenge. My Father Die also keeps the audience on its toes by constantly playing with expectation. Just when you think its going in one direction, it changes the road markings.
This is only improved by the aforementioned sublime central performances. Joe Anderson doesn’t say one word in the entire movie but emotes more character than dialogue ever could. His dishevelled look is juxtaposed against his innocently sweet face and baby blue eyes, almost as if his life would have been totally different with alternative parentage. Candace Smith is equally as great as webcam girl and all-round sweetheart Nana, but My Father Die is Gary Stretch’s movie. Hot damn, call the police, fireman, national guard and armed forces because he gives a killer performance. Every single frame he’s on screen is owned by him, and all his movements, line deliveries and mannerisms are impeccable. It’s a career best for Stretch, who has already shown how great he can be in films like Dead Man’s Shoes.
Perhaps the most impressive thing on display here is that My Father Die is Sean Brosnan’s first movie – which means he can only get better and learn more from here. A stunning debut, My Father Die is absolutely brilliant, thrilling and terrifying.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast and Scooperhero News. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen and read his weekly feature The Week in Star Wars.
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