Deanna Locke (Allison Marie Volk) works a thankless job as an assistant to Maxine Williams (Wendy Wilkins), a hard, uncaring person who constantly belittles her underlings. These daily condemnations of Deanna’s work ethic do nothing to boost her already shot confidence. Ever since Deanna’s fiance Tom (Christopher Glenn Cannon) left her, she feels unloved and worthless. While that incident isn’t exactly recent, Deany, as her friends call her, is hung up on him.
One particularly awful day at the office, Deanna winds up fired, and in a fit of blind rage, she kills Maxine. Panicking, she drives the corpse to the only place that comes to mind–Tom’s place. Deanna starts to dig a hole in the yard when Angela (Sarah Siadat) comes outside to see what the commotion is all about. Deanna introduces herself and Angela exclaims that she is a bit early, so not everything is ready, but to come on in anyway. Angela is Tom’s fiance, and this is a party celebrating Tom’s return from an overseas trip. As more guests arrive, they are startled to see Deanna at this gathering. Upon Tom entering the house, things get very awkward but not as troublesome as when a not dead Maxine waltzes in, dazed and unable to recall much of anything, including her name. Is Tom really over Deanna? Is Maxine going to remember anything? Will Deanna’s secret be found out?
“…she drives the corpse to the only place that comes to mind–Tom’s place.”
So goes Deany Bean Is Dead, a movie more interested in mood and tone than plot. Deanna herself, Allison Marie Volk, wrote the screenplay and in broad strokes, this story has been done better elsewhere; most recently in the remarkable Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town. But several original ideas and scenarios still make this a fun watch. The script’s most ingenious angle is the use of podcasts. Deanna loves a particular podcast about real-life murders, so at every major decision or perilous time that crops up over the course of the night, the narrator of the podcast does a voice-over talking about the best way to not get caught is to bury the body someplace unexpected or how a confident person isn’t a suspect. It is delivered in a wry manner, which makes it all the more entertaining.
At Deanna’s therapeutic meditation sessions, Myron (Colin Taylor Martin) bursts in late, loudly takes his shoes off, and then his phone rings. All this noise means Deanna restarts her recap of the last few days several times. Deanna speaks faster and faster with each interruption, until she blurts everything out at once, without being able to discuss her feelings on the topics. Her reaction to this feels genuine and seeing the character grow more self-assured throughout the movie is delightful.
“…leisurely directing allows the strong characters and their quirks to remain the focus…”
A lot of that rests squarely on Volk’s shoulders, as the actress portrays Deanna with nuance and empathy. She somehow gets the audience invested in a self-described stalker who attempts to murder at least one person. How hard must that be for a performer? Without her as the titular Deany Bean, this comedy would not be nearly as charming or interesting. Deanna should be hard to like, but Volk plays her as someone with big emotions, which makes it easier to understand where is coming from.
Volk’s co-stars ably support her. The movie is most enjoyable when the actors get to react to Deanna’s crazy outbursts. Paulina Bugembe portrays Deanna’s co-worker Izzy and the way she insists that Deanna invite her out on her next stalking mission is amusing and ridiculous in equal measure. As the object of desire, Cannon is charming and seems even to feel a little sorry about the state he left Deanna in.
The leisurely directing allows the strong characters and their quirks to remain the focus throughout Deany Bean Is Dead. Coupled with Volk’s excellent lead performance and fun flourishes, the movie is never out and out hilarious, but it is an endearing, droll watch that will put you in a good mood.
Deany Bean Is Dead (2018) Directed by Mikael Kreuzriegler. Written by Allison Marie Volk. Starring Allison Marie Volk, Christopher Glenn Cannon, Sarah Sidak, Wendy Wilkins, Paulina Bugembe.
6 Gummi Bears (out of 10)