Strawberry Flavored Plastic combines elements of found-footage horror and mockumentary to create a story about two documentarians (Nicholas Urda, Andreas Montejo) making a movie about a serial killer, Noel Rose (Aidan Bristow). With testimonials, first-person video, and video conferencing, the audience learns how this “film” slips out from underneath its makers and how it goes awry.
You may be able to identify the influences that hold this film up. 1993’s Man Bites Dog is the most obvious, another film that follows a serial killer before the “filmmakers” are in trouble. Unintentional connections include Canadian indie Capture Kill Release (another mock-doc about the fascination of killing) and Fake Blood (a film with a warped reality featuring filmmakers over their heads). Man Bites Dog, Capture Kill Release, and Fake Blood are not without their flaws, but they were made by directors who had a knack for blending realism within their story and characters; allowing the movies to rise above their moments of weakness. Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a film that looks and feels artificial through and through, doesn’t belong in the same league as these examples.
The number of monologues in Strawberry Flavored Plastic is baffling. The caked-on performances and cringe-inducing dialogue overreach for poignancy when Urda and Montejo are talking about the point of their project, and when Bristol is talking about what makes him tick. But, what drove me loony was how often these men could talk uninterrupted. Conversations do not flow like this, especially in the heat of the moment when a serial killer’s unpredictable motives are the topic at hand or when the wheels come off while making a movie. The long static shots didn’t sit well with me either. I understand the film is trying to build suspense, but our patience times out when the film lingers on numerous slow walks and during droning interview segments with self-indulgent subjects.
Strawberry Flavored Plastic marks the feature film debut for Colin Bemis. Even though this film was a baggy flop, I’d like to see Bemis take another swing at this genre. His willingness to stick with characters through thick and thin is encouraging, and he’s willing to go out on a limb for the sake of tension. If he tightens his writing skills, he’ll slay everything else.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie