LIGHTNING BUG (BLU RAY)
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
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.
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
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
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.
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!