Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
James Van Der Beek
What's it about
A writer holes himself up in an apartment where he must finish writing a screenplay. This isn't just any screenplay though; it's one that is personal to our main character, Paul Twist. When Paul was young, he witnessed a horrible accident as a circus clown's performance went wrong, engulfing him in his own flames and killing him. Slowly but surely, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, can anyone involved escape with their sanity or their lives?
Is it good movie?
I seem to recall a movie based on a Stephen King story about an author who slowly goes crazy over time, eventually struggling with the very grips of his sanity. That movie was Secret Window and starred Johnny Depp, and I absolutely hated it with a passion. I thought it was the most ridiculous flick I'd seen in quite some time and walked out of the theatre rather disappointed. So imagine my surprise when this little flick comes across my desk.
James Van Der Beek isn't my favorote actor. I'm not a big fan of anything he's ever done, whether it be Dawson's Creek or one of his latest forays into horror, Clive Barker's the Plague. I find him a bit wooden, and altogether lame. He's not the worst actor out there though, and that's why I find it strange to see him doing such low budget work. Maybe he pissed someone off. That being said, he does a pretty good job here, and pulls off the 'tortured writer' thing pretty well. There's a lot riding on his performance, and he's fairly deep and realistic, so I won't fault him.
This isn't really a grand scale film, as most of it deals with James' character and occasionally his loser friend played by Darryn Lucio (who also wrote the film). The violence is pretty tame, and there isn't a lot of nudity either. From what I read on the back of the box, I got exactly what I expected here, and that wasn't much. You get a lot of "ok, did that actually happen, or?" moments interspersed in there, and although some might find that sort of thing tense and exciting, I find it more frustrating and lazy- to each their own.
The film is directed with flair and well edited, moving along at a decent pace, but my other complaints lie within the ending and the dialogue. I thought that the script was peppered with way too many profanities, and the ending is the part of the film that I just couldn't buy into. The whole thing is another one of those "what, real or not?" things, and can also be seen from a mile away. I don't like endings that aren't definitive, but maybe that's just my silly rational brain. Also, "Punchy the Clown" is just an awful name.
Video / Audio
Video is a fairly clean widescreen picture.
Audio is presented in a rather dull 5.1 mix, but does the trick.
The only real meat here is the Making Of feature that runs just a little over 25 minutes. It's pretty standard stuff, but strays from the typical big studio gloss because it's an independent picture. It hits all the bases, interviews with Van Der Beek and the director, touching on special effects, and even an interview with Punchy himself.
Also you'll get a music video for Dr. Blind, if you dig it. That, and a trailer.
At the end of the day, Final Draft (bad title) is a decent attempt at a psychological thriller that leaves questions to be answered. It isn't that scary, and I'd have to say that it's more for your first date who is afraid of clowns and doesn't like those 'scary' movies than it is for us die-hard never pleased types.