Bubba Moon Face is not a feel-good film. It’s not even a feel-okay film. It’s probably a feel-awful film. It’s not a bad film, but it is a painfully bleak film.
Horton (Tyler Messner) is returning to his hometown for his mother’s funeral. With little to no money to his name, and just enough gas to get there, he finds himself stranded when his car winds up breaking down. He moves in with his brother Stanton (Joe Hammerstone) in the interim, and life moves forward as depressingly usual. You know, trips to the local dive bar where Leslie the bartender (Misty Ballew) offers blowjobs and handjobs for cash. All is… status quo, I guess… until a woman, Sabetha (Sylvia Geiger), shows up at Stanton’s door to both move in and drop off his supposed child (of which he was previously unaware).
To make matters even worse, good old philandering Dad (Joe Hanrahan) is back in town too, and he and his new, very young, lover Tammy (Jennifer George) are also invading Stanton’s house for an undetermined amount of time. But this isn’t no cinematic family reunion you or I may be familiar with. It’s obvious Dad, Tammy and Sabetha have devious designs on getting Stanton’s house and land, and no one seems to give two s***s about what happens to the baby, nicknamed “Bubba Moon Face,” so Horton begins to take care of the child. And by “take care of,” I mean he routinely removes the child from the gaze and atmosphere of his f****d-up family, even going so far as bring it along to his new resting place, the home of Leslie.
Nothing very good happens in this film and no one is all that spectacular a human either. Even though Horton seems to be doing something good by somewhat protecting the baby, his other actions in the film lead you to believe that this kid is just as in trouble sticking with Uncle Horton as being neglected by the degenerates at home. Or maybe not. Maybe he’s just trapped by his genetics, and with the right kind of freedom, he too can find redemption. Or not.
Tyler Messner’s portrayal of Horton is appropriately brooding and detached. He’s prone to anger and loves to get drunk, but otherwise is just a quiet rock of a human, who seems to be alone in a sea of s**t. Only instead of splashing around, he’s just trying his best not to disturb the current too much. Other times, he makes it very clear that the reason he’s in a sea of s**t is because he belongs there, and maybe he’s not so much as being brought along on the current as an active component of the flow itself.
The film has an appropriately dirty look to it, mostly utilizing natural light sources as they are found in the various locations, and it gives the film an almost claustrophobic feel. Any scene in Stanton’s house, for example, feels like being stuck in a very ugly cave. The lighting also leads to a graininess of sorts, adding an extra layer of dirt to the imagery.
There was one consistent visual choice with the film, however, that didn’t really work for me. As the film goes along, as either markers for title or act changes, there will be a sudden still frame of what you’re watching, only with what looked like the Glowing Edges filter in PhotoShop utilized. While the film’s other technical conceits work with it, these effects just seem overly cheap and cheesy, and are entirely unnecessary. Which is not to say all effects in the film aren’t properly utilized, a fish-eye look later on in the film fits nicely, but these still images really rubbed me the wrong way.
In the end, this is a very strong, competent film about some horrible people and happenings. While there may be hints of heroism here and there, ultimately this film has no hero. Instead we get the perspective of just another unsavory type to guide us through our descent into small town Hell, and the potential of seeing the birth of yet another in a long line of miscreants.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.