Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Mike McKown, Jim Town
What's it about
Troy wants to die; Lorrie wants to hump a dead dude: itís a match made in heaven.
Is it good movie?
Troy is your typical sad sack: he expected to be further along at this point in his life, with a better financial background. Add to that his lack of surviving family, and he has just enough depression to be a danger to himself without any sort of support system to pull him back from the brink. Enter Lorrie, a suicide hotline staffer who has nothing but time to help Troy. She even gives him her private number. But when she offers to come to his house, her hidden agenda reveals itself. The movie then becomes an unlikely romance as Troy moves inexorably towards a death that will benefit Lorrie in a way that little else can.
Stiff has some really great ideas, and could have been a really creepy short film, but stretched out to feature length it sags too much in the middle. The nature of Troyís depression never felt visceral enough to me. Just showing him moping around his crappy apartment was not enough, though Bill Scott actually had me caring whether Troy lived or died by the end. I didnít have the same reaction to Lulu Benton as Lorrie, unfortunately. She has a huge amount of dialogue in the film, and it is all delivered in a monotone. Her character is a one-hit wonder Ė hot necrophiliac chick Ė and all attempts to flesh her out just fell flat.
Stiff is a textbook micro-budget film. It was shot in a week with a budget of one-thousand dollars, with a combined cast and crew of exactly five people. All went in with the best intentions, and delivered the best product they could with those limitations. Itís a hell of a lot more than Iíve ever accomplished with my life. Unfortunately, spirit and heart donít necessarily make a film watchable, and this film really isnít. Itís an endlessly talky film that is impossible to watch without your finger on the ffwd button. There is male nudity, which is refreshing in a strange way, but I canít really recommend this film even based on that.
Video / Audio
Video: Shot on video. The directors clearly acknowledge that they had no time to do anything other than the most basic lighting set ups. There are a few close ups where the image gets soft, but all in all it is a solid transfer.
Audio: The audio track is decent, though there are those annoying moments when the reverses in a dialogue scene have different amounts of noise depending on in which direction the camera is facing.
Featurette: This is a 40-minute doc, consisting mainly of interviews with the two writers/directors and the two cast members. Everyone is affable enough, and seemed dedicated to making the best film possible with the limited budget and schedule.
Commentary: This is a very schizophrenic commentary. It consists of both writers/directors, both cast members, and Chris Nichelson, who was the only other crew member on the week-long shoot. The commentary sounds like several tracks spliced together, and several of the commentators have different volume levels with varying amounts of hiss.
The special features are rounded out by a trailer and a teaser.
Even with considerations made for the low-budget and quick shoot, Stiff is a tiresome film. It has some good ideas and some creepy overtones, but in the end canít realize either in any meaningful way. It stretches out its short film-length plot with endless pages of dialogue, and basically talks itself to death. No pun intended.