TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! It is not often that David Blaine could be a running joke in a film, in real life maybe, but not in a short film. However, writer-director Dave Solomon’s Brenda & Billy (and the Pothos Plant) not only makes the illusionist a running joke but also attempts to bring back a woman to life after a brutal murder. Sounds interesting already, doesn’t it?
The comedic thriller centers on a brother and sister duo, the Brenda (Sarah Stiles) and Billy (Santino Fontana) of the title. The estranged siblings need to cover up the murder of their mother. After Brenda viciously beats her mother, she calls in Billy, hoping he can do some magic and bring their deceased parent back to life. Ostensibly, Brenda just wants to avoid going to jail. But, obviously, magic can only do so much. Or can it? Billy might be able to pull some strings.
Brenda & Billy (and the Pothos Plant) is hilarious from start to finish. The plot is just so out there that you can’t help but laugh. That is if you have a dark sense of humor. Right off the jump, the explanation of how Brenda murdered her mother and why is ridiculous. Just as you think the outlandishness ends, it gets worse (or better) when Brenda expects Billy to use his magic to bring their mother back to life.
“…Brenda expects Billy to use his magic to bring their mother back to life.”
The cast is perfect. Stiles and Fontana play off each other like true siblings with a love/hate relationship. Although their characters are complete opposites, Brenda and Billy are both mentally unstable enough that they are believable as belonging to the same family, especially once you see how their mother is. This is not only a superb cast but great writing that truly understands these characters.
One unsung hero is the practical effects — a dying art in the industry. The special effects are all basic effects of blood shooting out of necks, projectile vomit, and sickly-looking makeup. They are the film’s backbone, and I was glad to see them done practically and quite well.
Brenda & Billy (and the Pothos Plant) is just a fun and bat-crazy short film that will have you laughing from beginning to end.
Brenda & Billy (and the Pothos Plant) will screen at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…a fun and bat-crazy short film..."