A group of high school friends get together for a party to celebrate another friend’s most recent return from rehab. In their excitement, they all get a little heavy-handed with their personal additions to the party punchbowl, creating a concoction that results in everyone’s death. Kind of.
Turns out the drink they created out of everything from ecstasy to Wiccan ritual-friendly herbs to plumbing liquid has not done them in, but instead left them in a form of “urban undead” where their eyes get all weird and their bodies start to decay. Oh, and they seem to bleed or ooze Smurf-colored goo now too. Did I mention this is a musical?
The basic premise of VP Boyle’s dark comedic musical short, Lifeless #BeingKindaDeadSortaSucks, is certainly interesting enough. The songs are strong and the short film is truly put together well; it looks and sounds wonderful and moves along at a consistent pace. The main problem is that the story itself doesn’t move forward much at all.
At about thirty minutes long, for a short film to feel like very little happens is not a good thing. For the most part, it all feels like setup for something longer, but the setup isn’t all that great either. Beyond everyone’s lives being cut short, and their angst over that, no one really has a narrative arc. Some characters get more of a look than others, but for the most part you’re watching a bunch of seemingly spoiled teenagers whine about being undead… and then singing about their predicament while trying to make the best of it while nothing else happens. It’s neat but to what end, really?
I do want to single out a particularly humorous sequence that had me cracking up, however. After their undead transformation, the friends find themselves the victims of a door-to-door candy selling from some musical theater students. Out of every joke in the film, and every musical sequence, this one segment is the stand-out moment in the short. No matter how little I got out of the rest of the film, it was worth the time just for the laughs I got out of this sequence.
Overall, filmmaker VP Boyle has musical chops, and continues to show that. I previously reviewed Boyle’s musical It Is What It Is, and there’s no denying, for me at least, that the skills needed to pull off this film are all firmly in Boyle’s wheelhouse. This one just seemed to have a story that didn’t cook long enough; it’s more a premise loosely held together by music than a strong story, based on said premise, elevated by the music.
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