Menantico Blues attempts to discuss how the factories going under brought poverty, which brought more crime to their area. As well as how all of those factors play into people turning to drugs and the like. It’s shoved in there as awkwardly as the fart that opens the movie would suggest. Essentially, writer-director Ricky Whitehead has overstuffed his film with little rhyme or reason to how his ideas gel together. It moves from a traditional narrative structure to a faux documentary and back again without any connective tissue to make it work.
The lack of clarity from the directing is also present in the screenplay. Characters are not so much introduced as shoved onto the screen. Carson’s introduction is him talking directly at the camera. Who is filming? Who does he think this is for? These are questions that any faux documentary (or mockumentary) could easily answer; just look at any Christopher Guest movie. But because the script cannot decide what kind of movie it is, everything comes tumbling out in an unorganized, baffling way.
“…everything comes tumbling out in an unorganized, baffling way.”
The film claims to be a mix of horror and comedy, but that is inaccurate. There’s nothing in Menantico Blues that I can point to as a proper joke, except for the fart during the prologue. Then because the movie jumps from one style or another on a whim, it never creates tension or atmosphere. People come onto the screen, do something, and leave without leaving a lasting impression.
Now, to be fair, Menantico Blues has one fantastic bright spot to its name. The score by Tanner Ross is way better than this jumble of one bad idea after another deserves. When the bland characters are being stupid, or the movie aimlessly meanders about, the music is so melodic and beautiful that it is the sole factor for the viewer not turning the movie off halfway through. I hope to hear Ross’s wonderful compositions in a film that deserves it.
I haven’t the foggiest idea what Ricky Whitehead hoped to achieve with Menantico Blues. Suffice to say, due to weak characterizations, tonal whiplash, and nine different directing styles all at once, he fails to achieve it. It is confusing, awkward, and, ultimately, pointless. But, the music by Tanner Ross does mean the movie has at least one genuinely excellent element to it.
"…the music is so melodic and beautiful that it is the sole factor for the viewer not turning the movie off halfway through."