Catch 22: Based on the Unwritten Story by Seanie Sugrue, 2016.
Directed by Josh Folan
Starring Phil Burke, Brock Harris, Charmane Star, Jayce Bartok and Al Thompson.
A group of immoral friends awake after a night of hard drug use and alcoholism to find the body of a dead girl in the bathroom. With hurricane Sandy on the horizon the group is forced to make a quick decision.
Catch 22: Based on the Unwritten Story by Seanie Sugrue, much like the title suggests, is a film stuck between two genres of conflicting interest. The style/cinematography suggests you might be watching a neo-noir crime thriller; however, the narrative and acting styles frame the movie as a fractured horror with a dark sense of humour similar to Deadgirl.
A lot can be said about a film that uses its title to illustrate, in blatant clarity, a films intention. Catch 22’s worst quality seems to be the way it announces its intentions so obviously with scenes summarised into explanations that work to patronise its audience, rather than respect them. The symbolism of the cockroach trapped in the glass, the way each conversation between those in the group is tied off neatly, all creates a feeling of predictability. It is this lack the subtlety expected from a truly engaging horror that holds back the potential of Folan’s film. There is almost nothing to think about after the credits roll off, which is almost surprising considering the curiously exciting narrative and the character developments that could have been made.
With that said, there is a lot to praise in this film despite the area’s it so noticeably loses its confidence. Boasting itself as an official selection for the Queens World Film Festival, the SOHO International Film Festival, the Palm Beach International Film Festival and the Great Lakes International Film Festival, Catch 22 already bolsters itself as a film that aims to surpass the expectations of its viewership. It seems that this quality is a direct result of Josh Folan’s collaboration with Seanie Sugrue, a fresh new emerging playwright intent on spearheading an off Broadway Punk! theatre movement. Seanie’s talent as a writer has been proven in America with his work being recognised and nominated for a number of awards and also for a sold out run at the 13th Street Theatre for his production of One Way to Pluto! For those that might have seen Folan’s only other feature film, What Would Bear Do? the dialogue is immediately recognisable as being very different. It seems obvious that Sugrue’s inclusion in this project is what makes Catch 22 recognisable as an interesting starting position for the duo who are intending to collaborate again later this year on another film adaptation of one of Sugrue’s screenplay’s.
What is very interesting from the get go is that Catch 22 is very thoughtful about the way in which it frames its narrative; something others might tie to Sugrue’s inclusion. Its framework provides the viewer with the parameters of how these friends know each other and their responsibilities for the next day; this works wonderfully to outline the timeframe of the film and the experience the viewer is set to enter into. Folan and Sugrue utilise the control they have over these expectations by subverting the ideas of what we already knew about each character as the film progresses. We are aware from the first act that writers intend to tell a story with a specific meaning, using the first act to explore this curiosity they manipulate their audience a few times, keeping them guessing as to what the intention of their actions are in the overall narrative frame. Unfortunately, Folan loses this subtly and moves towards more all-encompassing explanations as the film reaches its climax.
The camera work and editing choices in contrast strengthen his position as a storyteller, although offering little to no originality, the film displays the narrative fairly well, keeping his audience, at the very least, interested. The editing of the film is altogether surreal, imaginative and jarring. At times it becomes overwhelming, which further emphasises the uncomfortable acts that the group is forced into witnessing or carrying out. The camera work floats in and around the characters, in a non-intrusive way during the first act as they try to make sense of what has happened while they were blacked out. This dramatically changes, juxtaposing anxiety against calmer moments by using the position of the camera to reinforce each feeling. The way the camera works its way into some of the film’s hardest to watch moment’s stresses the horror the film works so hard to create. Aside from the narrative framework this is probably one of the film’s most creative and useful effects.
Overall the substantial amount of contextual grounding and editing motifs that work to embolden one another in strengthening the film are equalised by the acting which is generally subpar. Their character choices undermine their development and the narrative itself, and although there are stand out performances, it fails in redeeming the overall quality of Catch 22, instead plateauing at around three quarters in. Folan’s film lies right in the middle ground of what could be expected from the horror genre, but marks an interesting collaboration to watch in the next few years. Something similar to the evolution of Simon Barretts collaboration with Adam Wingard might well be reflected in these early projects between Folan and Sugrue.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★