I never saw the first Depression of Detective Downs film, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy Anthony Thurman’s The Depression of Detective Downs 2: On Depression’s Edge. Perhaps, had I seen the first, there would be elements that would elevate the second, but this film felt like a pretty standalone effort, especially considering that events that occurred in the first film, as hinted at during the opening sequence, don’t seem to have anything to do with what’s going on in this one.
Animated crudely, the film focuses on Detective Rolando Downs (Anthony Thurman), a man whose cup is always half-empty. We know this because, throughout the film, his inner monologue is upfront and center. Every doubt or stray thought that comes into his head is expressed immediately, often while a Depression Meter appears on screen, letting us know where he’s at emotionally. In this case, his emotions fluctuate as he takes on the case of finding the missing Dedrick James (Jose Rosete).
Now, one could quibble a bit with the animation style, but why bother; it’s stiff and matter-of-fact, much like the damaged detective, so it works. The humor and tone is very dry. Hell, the entire experience is very dry. At just under 20 minutes, though, the dryness didn’t irritate to the extent that it could. Still, you’re either enjoying it and/or interested in where it is all going, or it could be borderline boring.
That said, the sequence where Downs solves the Dedrick James mystery is extremely impressive in every way possible, from the edit to the audio to the usage of blur and shake to liven up the animation. While I found the film to be just okay up until that point, that sequence really left its mark as the defining imagery I’m going to take away from the film.
In the end, I’d like to see more of Detective Downs, though perhaps in smaller chunks (a 5 minute web serial, perhaps). Again, while I didn’t find the running time to be oppressive, I think the overall character lends itself to smaller stories in more frequent bursts.
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