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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Robert Hall

Bret Harrison
Laura Prepon
Ashley Laurence
Kevin Gage
Hal Sparks

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What's it about
This coming of age story deals with Green (Bret Harrison), who loves making monster effects and has become quite good at it. However, he's being threatened by an awful and abusive stepfather (really well played by Kevin Gage..these scenes most certainly hit home) and religious zealots, the type of folk who tend to ruin small-town dreams. On top of that, Green's in love with an enchanting young lady, which makes it all that much tougher to cut ties and take off.
Is it good movie?
I remember watching this movie several years ago when it was originally released on DVD. I had low expectations- in fact, I didn't really know what to expect at all. Instead of being a true "horror" movie, this is certainly a rich and textured coming of age drama that any horror fan could get into, especially if they truly love horror effects. We all remember a time or two when we've been teased for our passion or hobbies, no matter what they are. Luckily, you're reading this because you love horror flicks, and Mr. Green Graves plays to the things we love as a modern day Stan Winston or Tom Savini.

While the plot may sound familiar (alcoholic mom, evil stepfather who discourages dreams, mean townsfolk and a girlfriend who by all accounts "ain't no good"), this little flick has a real heart to it and doesn't feel phony or forced at all. At the center of all of this is a fantastic cast led by Bret Harrison as Green and supported by Ashley Laurence (Kristy herself, as Green's mom) and Laura Prepon (as his girlfriend with a nasty "acting" past).

Lightning bug is an exploration of thoughts and feelings, besides the jabs of people who are discouraging Green's dreams. Lightning Bug deals with what it's like to be stuck in a small town. We all know that there comes a time in life when we must choose against the harder, riskier and more rewarding path, or the safe routine of those who have followed before us. This movie reflects on Green's choice and struggle to arrive at it- the suffering we endure, and risk vs reward, something that surely strikes home with any of us who have dealt with such heavy moments in our lives.

This one certainly draws you in and gives a great sense of authenticity in its setting, as it truly was filmed in the middle of nowhere, Alabama. If I had to lay some criticism against the film, I'd have to say that sometimes things just seem to become so tough for poor Green- the guy is just slammed with negativity at every single angle imaginable. Can the guy have a sliver of positivity around? Even his love interest comes with a dark past and adds to some of his hefty emotional trauma. On top of that, I didn't totally buy the "religious turn" of Green's younger brother. Felt a bit awkwardly paced.

On the whole though, this is an emotional ride that won't disappoint and will almost surely resonate with the viewer. You'll want to fight with Green as he get through each day, and you'll fight against bigotry, hatred and abuse. This one deals with beating our personal demons, and does so with style and honesty.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in  1.78:1 widescreen and honestly, doesn't look so hot. It's grainy, a little washed out and quite simply doesn't look much different from a DVD.

Audio comes to us in DTS-HD Master Audio and is mixed brilliantly. Really top notch sound work here.
The Extras
Should you be interested, there's an extended version of the flick that's bizarrely included as an extra, with about 15 mintues of extra footage. This has no commentary track and ultimately throws the pace and consistency of the movie off, adding entire new plot points that are totally absent from the final cut. Neat addition though!

Luciferin: The Making of Lightning Bug runs about 20 minutes long and is pretty standard stuff with audition tapes, behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. Interesting enough, though not overly different. Lots of little tidbits about first time director Robert Hall, who ironically enough was an FX guru prior to this film.

Afterglow: A Look Back at Lightning Bug runs about 25 minutes and is pretty self explanatory, dealing with a bunch of friends and colleagues of Hall's dishing out praise and discussing the theme and thought processes behind Lightning bug. Also included is a deeper look at how the film was shot, and the stuff they enhanced for the blu-ray.

If you love deleted scenes, you're in for a treat because there are about 20 minutes of them to be found here. If you watched the extended cut, most are interwoven within but if not, they're here and feature optional commentary from Hall.

You'll also find two commentaries: one with director Robert Hall, one where he's joined by producer Lisa Waugh and actresses Ashley Laurence and Laura Prepon. The first track is excellent and laoded with film-school, low budget details and influences. The second track repeats a lot of the things mentioned in the first track, but has a lot of amusing anecdotes that come from the banter between the participants.

Finally, you get 5 minutes of outtakes, a music video for Kevin Kinney's "Sun tangled Angel Revival", a photo gallery and a couple of trailers for this film.

Last Call
I might not watch it several more times, but I think that Lightning Bug manages to be an affecting and engrossing flick that showcases dedication, determination and passion. The right balance was struck and although the video package is a bit lacking, the extras are fairly meaty and plentiful. Lightning Bug is worthy of your time and cash!
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT

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