Stegman Is Dead is the latest addition to the string of Quentin Tarantno copycats. Smooth anti-heroes and bumbling crooks come together in a quirky crime story played for laughs and gags. However, this debut feature film from TV director David Hyde edges out its sub-genre competition; mostly due to the chemistry of the film’s ensemble.
Although it feels as if the audience has been thrown into a story that seems halfway over, Hyde is still able to flesh out the environment and its characters’ seedy motivations. As mentioned, the movie uses a wacky premise as colourful characters race (and try killing each other) for critical video footage – a MacGuffin, if you will. The incriminating evidence, centred around a murdered pornographer, could benefit some and doom others. Stegman Is Dead advances with this formula because the movie keeps a tight timeline on its narrative – an intelligent move by co-writers Hyde and Stephen Kunc. The plot plays through its motions as a condensed and intense moment in time (with flashbacks) instead of a sprawling story that becomes increasingly convoluted by the minute.
The cast’s strong chemistry really sells this movie though. Take Gus, played with suave amusement by Michael Eklund. By himself, Gus is a cutout of other “cool” hired killers, but when he’s paired with his aggravated wife Diane (Andrea del Campo), his cute daughter Angela (Linnea Moffat), or an unconventional partner (Bernice Liu), Eklund allows himself to show a goofier side of the character that makes Gus endearing. The miscellaneous thugs that show up all find ways to fully utilize their screen time well, either with an equally dopey counterpart or with their own wonderfully weird mannerisms.
The weirdness only becomes gross when the film focuses on the murdered filmmaker’s latest project – tentacle porn. I’ll hand it to David Hyde: I admire his ambition. I don’t think any other movie has acknowledged this bizarre fetish before. Then again, considering the movie’s unsavoury results, maybe there was good reason for that.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie