Here’s a message to the U.S. Marines currently stationed in Afghanistan: hey guys, if you want to really torture the captured Taliban and Al-Qæda fighters you are currently interrogating, then make them watch Robert Saitzyk’s film “After the Flood.” A few minutes of that film and your prisoners will gladly confess to anything and everything.
This is actually not a joke. “After the Flood” is a truly unwatchable exercise in pointless cinema, following the unlikely collision of a small-time alcohol-swigging hood who finds himself holed up in a fleabag hotel with a lonely prostitute from El Salvador. The silly hood eventually drinks himself into oblivion, at which point the hooker lifts his cash and disappears. When he awakes, he runs about the streets in search of her, eventually locating her but just as suddenly losing her when a drive-by bullet meant for him fatally lodges in her lovely body.
While the story for “After the Flood” is admittedly dreary (and its over-reliance on foul language doesn’t help much), the film is ruined by director Robert Saitzyk’s inability to balance the performances of his two stars. As the prostitute, Ola Metwally projects bland timidity and on-camera lack of ease to the nth degree. Forget about finding sympathy for her character: the actress has absolutely no screen presence and speaks in such a tiny whisper of a voice that her dialogue is frequently inaudible. She is so stiff and stolid on-screen that watching “After the Flood” gives the impression poor Ms. Metwally was smacked to be “it” in a game of freeze-tag and no one’s come along to defrost her. This is Ms. Metwally’s film debut…she can only go up from here.
In the role of the drunken hood, however, Shawn Andrews excessively compensates for Ms. Metwally’s on-screen reticence with such an operatically over-the-top performance that you can’t help but pray for a giant hook to emerge from the side of the screen to yank him away. Mr. Andrews seems to have graduated from the Cookie Monster School of Acting: wildly rolling eyes, rubbery flailing arms, a bellowing voice which rollercoasters across every possible octave, and an omnivorous appetite for scenery chewing which leaves the audience gasping for Zantac. In Mr. Andrews’ mind, essaying the role of a desperate alcoholic criminal is achieved by doing a third-rate impersonation of a hammed-up Nicholas Cage; he’s astonishing, for all the wrong reasons.
Is there a trace of a silver lining anywhere in this dark cloud? Yes, indeed: kudos the filmmaker Saitzyk’s insistence for shooting “After the Flood” in 35mm rather than DV. While the celluloid format does not hide the amateurish elements of the production, at least it looks like a real movie and not like a home movie.