Neil Breen is an American writer-director-actor-producer who is infamous for the quality of his films. Nearly all of them deal with an absurd conspiracy theory, use cheap looking effects which are often poorly integrated into their scenes, and feature melodramatic acting. Worst of all, Breen’s movies are all unfathomably boring and pretentious as all get out. Think Birdemic levels of shockingly dull, only with less action and a more hamfisted message. To sum up, then, they are bad and not in the fun way.
So, imagine my bewilderment when the production company Manatee Party announced their movie Fatal Future and directly cite Breen as an influence on this cyberpunk romantic thriller. How serious could Sean Doyle and Michael Keene (collectively Mitch Kean) be about this? Turns out, not very, as this is an outright parody of Breen’s style. Even knowing they’re intentionally aping his style, this production has way more going for it than any Breen title.
Fatal Future is about the greatest hacker in the data grid MC Dalton (Michael Keene as Mitch Kean). A few years ago, mega-corporations staged a successful coup against the United States government. In one of the numerous attacks during this revolution, the love of Dalton’s life, Claire (Bri Ana Wagner), is killed. Now, these conglomerates of mass consumption control every aspect of an individual’s life, including where they work, how they dress, and what they eat. A handful of people spend most of their time unplugged from the data grid, only logging in to accomplish illegal, yet lucrative hacking or spy jobs for rival companies.
“…these conglomerates…control every aspect of an individual’s life, including where they work, how they dress, and what they eat.”
In order to get ahead and become the “best stockbroker at the bank,” a stock trader (James Nickerson) illegally acquires a new program, Vee (Bri Ana Wagner). Vee’s whole purpose is to predict what its user wants and then give them the most optimal route to achieving those goals. For the stock trader, this manifests itself as information about which stocks to buy/ sell/ trade. Through means I was not able to follow, Vee escapes the confines of the stock trader’s computer and winds up on the data grid.
Now, the stock trader and a few friends, who could make a killing with Vee, are chasing her throughout this computerized environment. Vee happens to look just like Claire, and this captures Dalton’s attention. He vows to keep her safe and take down the corporations and restore American government and values while doing so.
If all of that sounds pretty absurd, well, that is the point. The sequence in which the stock trader buys the illegal program is all stilted dialogue, weird non-sequiturs, and a very confusing sense of place, thanks to the editing. The trader walks up to a big bald guy in sunglasses and asks him a question about the program. The hacker says yes, he has it. Then the trader randomly asks about the guy’s mom, and the seller abruptly talks about how all his other friends and clients say he can get and sell anything. Aside from definitely being an homage to The Room’s infamous buying flowers scene (there’s no way it is not), it is hilarious.
Parody or not, individual conversations are distractingly awkward. The stock trader has a wife, and this character is not introduced to the audience; a real Breen hallmark there. However, the couple the entire time, and it is a puzzling tonal shift to anything that came before, or after it. The mundane thing that set off the argument is not ridiculous enough to work within Fatal Future’s parameters.
“…the odd, sometimes jarring editing replete with continuity errors is intentional.”
Whatever flaws the script may have, Sean Doyle and Michael Keene prove to be excellent directors. There is so much energy bounding out of virtually every frame of the film, that one cannot call it boring. In the beginning of the movie, Dalton gives a self-aggrandizing monologue, which describes not just the downfall of the government but also all of his skills- brilliant hacker, Ph.D. at age 19, best shot in his battalion, and the smartest man in any room. As Dalton explains the beginning of the corporation war and lists all of his accomplishments, the movie edits between Dalton’s time training, him in the desert, him hacking, and stock footage of human experimentation.
It all flows very well together and provides a sense of pace that Breen’s long, drawn-out films never muster. The action scenes vary wildly, but the odd, sometimes jarring editing replete with continuity errors is intentional. Like the portentous voice-over sequence, these too move with ease, sporting a few exciting, if goofy, moments. Happily, that means even if a particular line or sequence does not work, a new over the top moment is always around the corner, so the viewer never has time to get annoyed at the part that fizzles.
The acting from the cast matches the super serious yet exaggerated plot. Everyone is hamming it up nicely, all in on the joke of the film. Bri Ana Wagner in her dual role especially shows much promise as an actress. Michael Kean is an affable leading man, and his monotone voiceover is delivered entirely straight-faced; not an easy task.
Fatal Future is an excellent parody of independent filmmaker Neil Breen’s outlandish filmography. In its ambition to lampoon, not every scene goes as far as it needs to in order to properly amuse. The biggest problem though is that people unfamiliar with Breen and his work might not understand this movie’s deliberate hokiness. That is a shame, as there is fun to be had here.
Fatal Future (2018) Directed by Mitch Kean. Written by Mitch Kean. Starring Sean Doyle, Michael Keene, Bri Ana Wagner, James Nickerson, Ivy Salazar, Alex Pusineri, Cheyenne Wise, James Alexander.
7 Gummi Bears (out of 10)