Reviewed by: JimmyO
Michael Reilly Burke
What's it about
An inmate known only as John Doe offers his secrets to the prison psychologist. It seems that this child murderer is more than just a man, when the doctor finds there may be a supernatural force when he "frolics" with his victims.
Is it good movie?
How many times have we watched a criminal, usually some kind of murderer, go one on one with an investigator? It is a very common and clichéd part of the genre that continues to be used. Luckily, director Jacob Cooney takes a script written by Thomas Ligotti and Brandon Trenz (based on a short written by Ligotti) and somehow gives this twenty-two minute short a sense of style. Much of it takes place in a large room, with several windows surrounding it, with a large table, one man at each side. The men in question are Michael Reilly Burke and Maury Sterling. Burke plays Dr. David Munck, a prison psychologist trying to find out the details involving Sterling’s psychotic child murderer named simply, John Doe (Sterling). Mr. Doe continually shows the doctor his art, which consists of childlike drawings, he also continually references how much he enjoys being friends with children.
While this may sound typical and somewhat predictable, it is… sort of. With John Doe and his tales of “frolicking” with children, he seems to think the murders are nothing more than freeing the children’s souls. And within this short is the idea of… what if? What if this murderer was more dangerous than just a crazy dude? What if he really could go anywhere, at anytime, with some supernatural abilities? Although there is nothing terribly X-Files about this, it does offer that glimpse in a very subtle way. When the good doctor goes home to his family - it seems that this particular case drove him to quit his duties - he studies his videotapes of the sessions for his final report. There is an obvious family tension as his young daughter is asleep upstairs while he watches a child killer and tells his wife Leslie (the least effective performance by Jennifer Aspen) about what he has dealt with. All of this leads to a connection between the killer and the family. Is it obvious? Terribly. But there is a charm here which tells me that Mr. Cooney is a talent that could really make something special.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a quality, 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer.
Audio: The audio is not specified, and is not quite as good as the video. Still, this is a good-looking, well-produced short and a good enough DVD.
As for the extras, you will find a Commentary track which features Jacob Cooney, Maury Sterling and Jane Kelly Kosek. This is not the most lively commentary I’ve ever heard. It feels like they weren’t terribly excited about doing a commentary. So after awhile, they seem to lose steam, and so does the viewer.
Also included is The Making of… The Frolic (12:23) is a nice little extra, especially since this is half the length of the feature itself. I really enjoyed what each of these nice people had to say about he making of this film. For a short film, this is a damn nifty DVD. Especially since this “Collector’s Edition” even includes a booklet which has the original short story and script with a few other surprises inside. Good stuff.
I like what Jacob Cooney does with The Frolic. This tale of a maniac with a possible, bizarre power to “frolic” with his victims has a intriguing twist on the cat and mouse genre. There is a strange sort of quality to this film. The script, the music and the actors all come together and make for a creepy little film. It is predictable and it has been done (aside from the frolicking aspect), but it is handled well enough to make an atmospheric thriller.