It’s refreshing in this day and age that some indie filmmakers aren’t just content with splattering the audience with red ooze and goo and calling it a horror film. There are some filmmakers that really want to convey a story, and Larry Longstreth seems to be one of those directors who aren’t happy with just grossing people out. “The Murders of Brandywine Theater” is a complex, and very unique horror film that isn’t just eerie, but it’s also damn spooky to boot. To say Moxxy is a creepy antagonist really is underplaying the top notch puppetry that’s put to work here. Moxxy seems very rigid when we first see him, but soon enough he not only begins to take on his own life, but his limited expression make him a menace to be reckoned with.
Every frame of “The Murders of Brandywine Theater” feels meticulously crafted to unfold a narrative that’s built around suppression and the manifestation of our darkest persona conveyed through a simple puppet. Henry Kosta is certainly a man who’s spent his entire life being repressed, and suppressed, and he can only find an outlet through his one friend, his ventriloquist dummy Moxxy. Moxxy (voiced brilliantly by Les Claypool) is a wise cracking and nasty little creation that begins taking on a life of his own when Henry subconsciously decides that he’s had enough of being pushed around and mocked by everyone. Soon the question becomes if the dog is wagging his tail or if the tail is wagging the dog, and the body count begins to rise. “The Murders of Brandywine Theater” never resorts to cheap slasher movie tropes, and instead focuses on the impact of said murders and the resonance they strike with Henry in the long run.
Longstreth has every chance to up the body count, but instead opts to explore the damage crucial deaths play in the development of Moxxy. The more people die, the more Moxxy comes alive, and Henry loses control of the puppet before he decides to put a stop to his chaos. The editing is slick and really manages to toy with audiences perceptions of who is controlling whom, and who is really committing the murders in the long run. Surely, Moxxy is taking on some form of cognizance, but isn’t he just delivering on what Henry secretly desires? Is Henry just as guilty as Moxxy for murder? I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent performance by Dian Bachar, who seems to disintegrate from the inside out the more Moxxy gains strength.
Whether it’s intentional or not, Bachar seems to waste away as he submits to the dummy’s violent urges, prompting a battle of wills between him and his alter ego. There’s also some wonderful supporting turns by Danielle Lozeau who plays Mindy, the object of Henry’s affection, as well as Martin Klebba, and Dallas Page, just to name a few. “The Murders of Brandywine Theater” is a very cerebral and complex thriller that succeeds in creating a spooky, and very ominous villain who is center stage in a truly scary story I definitely wanted more of. With shades of “The Twilight Zone,” Batman, and “Magic,” Longstreth and co. have quite an accomplishment on their hands.
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