When two young contract killers, Jesse and Ray (respectively played by Chris Fornataro and Kevin Gottschalk), order their breakfast at a quaint, suburban diner, the last person they expected to take their order was the man they’d spent years looking for. There’s no official contract out on George Freeman (Bill Brock), a small-town husband and father, but formalities aren’t necessary when the beef is this personal. George has a secret that they’re going to make him tell.
Kent Lamm and Chris Fornataro are names to remember. Their debut feature, Bad is Bad, is a tremendous thriller that cost a mere $6,000 to make but looks like it cost a great deal more. Crisp cinematography and smooth camerawork create an aesthetically pleasing vehicle for the three primaries, listed above, to deliver their noteworthy performances. The writing is strong and the actors have no problem delivering the dialogue naturally and convincingly. These two Virginian filmmakers partially raised the money for their equipment by entering short film competitions and taking home cash prizes. Their hard work can be viewed for free online and it’s absolutely worth your time.
Gottschalk’s portrayal of Ray, a disturbed and perverted loose cannon, might be the most memorable element of the film. It’s difficult to forget a pockmark-covered psychopath donning a red turtleneck sweater and large glasses. His getup is just the top layer of a twisted young man who either fails at controlling his impulses or doesn’t try to control them in the first place. And it’s Gottschalk’s mannerisms and speech inflections that round out the unsettling yet sympathetic character. His performance is the standout of the film, which is not to take away from the other actors, all of whom should be commended on their work.
With Bad is Bad, Lamm and Fornataro have made something great out of very little. A lot could have gone wrong with the film but it doesn’t. They’ve managed to make a taut thriller that largely takes place in one location and that handles serious subject matter while avoiding melodrama and cliché. Bad is Bad is a cool indie that will undoubtedly make a number of “underrated” lists if enough people take the time to seek it out.
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