Inspired by a law in a small North Carolina town which bans upholstered furniture on the front porch, “Front Porch Furniture, NC” tells the story of wild redneck rebels who fight against the General Attorney (played by male lead Darren Stevens in a blonde wig doing a truly awful Fat Bastard impression) who has banned front porch furniture.
The movie is nothing more than snippets of these rednecks’ lives, and for the first half hour avoids the plot altogether for riveting scenes in which the characters reorganize their canned goods and make batches of drug-laced peanut brittle.
The front porch furniture becomes a symbol of freedom with pictures of Adolf Hitler and a poorly accented voice-over representing the unseen threat of the General Attorney and the mega corporation Globo Chem (a name rip-off from “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” which I never quite figured out how it related to the film).
The first few frames of “Front Porch Furniture, NC” is a harbinger of the rest of the film – poorly conceived story, zero production value, improvised acting by actors who cannot improvise. This is what results when a cable public access star reads Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without A Crew.” Where Rodriguez was able to take $7,000 and make a slick, eye catching action film, director Anne M. Long took $218 and made a mess.
“Front Porch Furniture, NC” is about on the level of a bad production on local cable access – without the aid of the stations sets, technology and decent cameras. Shot entirely on a handheld camcorder without the aid of editing (in other words, cuts are made by hitting STOP and REC on the camera rather than going through the standard process of post production), “Front Porch Furniture, NC” has all the visual appeal of a snuff film.
Admittedly, the marketing for “Front Porch Furniture, NC” exceeds the production with a web site, a trivia game, and a bumper sticker “made by real trailer woman (sic).”
In her production notes, Long specifically cites Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without a Crew” as her inspiration, but what she failed to grasp from the book was how to increase production values with quick cutting, unique camera angles, and above all else a lightning-quick script. The jittery camerawork on “Front Porch Furniture, NC” makes The Blair Witch Project look like a Kubrick film.
One scene involves a family gathering on the porch to declare, “I love front porch furniture!” and has a five minute build up of the director trying to wrangle them onto the porch. In another section, we are treated to not one, but two separate five-minute scenes of protestors picketing on the street with signs like “I Love Front Porch Furniture” and “Front Porch Power.” It is this level of unnecessary dead time that makes “Front Porch Furniture, NC” painful to watch.
What makes the film even more unforgivable is the fact that the director claims to have vast professional production experience, including hundreds of commercials and production work at a local television station. In the world on independent film – even zero-budget guerilla films like this one – the viewer should expect a modicum of professionalism, especially from an industry professional.