Indie Film Review “A Brilliant Monster”



First, the Recap:

The fiend that is overt success. Sure, everyone wants to gain notoriety, even achieve a place in history perhaps, making a mark on the world, and leaving a lasting legacy. Yes, to simply find fulfillment in whatever they put their hand to. However, exactly what lengths are you actually willing to go to ensure said prosperity and affluence? Meet Mitch Stockridge (Dennis Friebe), prolific novelist and ruggedly handsome rogue who loves the power of influence and wealth his self-help books have gained him even more than the myriad of ladies he’s so often associated with. Yet, despite this surface image of triumph in life, there’s something about Mitch that doesn’t quite sit well with many others.

A woman named Sophie (Alea Figueroa) has gone to the police and spilled a story to Detectives John (Bill Kelly) and Abby (Joy Kigin) about a less than savory side to the suave Stockridge, but it is a tale that seems far-fetched if not completely unbelievable. Yet, Abby seems to think there may be more to it, even as more people associated with Stockridge begin disappearing.  In the meantime, Stockridge’s run of luck with his books stalls, frustrating him and his bossy publisher Natalie (Susan Morgan), while also receiving guff from his father Carver (David Raizor) who lives with him. Soon, even Mitch’s best friend Nick (Nick Leali) is worried about him. But, Mitch has always found ways to feed the beast of success–in more ways than one.

Next, my Mind:

Take on a certain metaphorical concept about the nature of success and turn it into a dramatic, serious, yet darkly comical horror/thriller. Sound like an original idea? Well, it was to this reviewer and is exactly what director/co-writer/executive producer F.C. Rabbath has accomplished with his newest 86-minute feature film that puts quite a–monstrous–twist on notion of people’s hunger for fame and fortune consuming them and everyone around them if not held in check. Also presenting the idea that even those closest to us, that we trust the most with who we are and what we’re about, cannot be considered safe from our resolutions to ambitions, buried anger, longings to get even for the past, and the harshness of a traumatic childhood, all themes that are very much addressed in the context of this narrative. However, what is also intriguing here is that there is illustration of what happens when we’ve finally gotten a hold of ourselves, our attitudes, and our actions, where that creature inside of us no longer holds dominion. It is then that happiness on a real level sets in, but again, at what ongoing cost? The visuals are sometimes just a touch campy in spots, but realize this is intentional and not a detriment to the film at all.

Friebe is a great choice to play the role of Mitch, a totally success-driven, ego-centric-to-a-fault man whose own focus on getting to the top, paired with the pent up rage he feels from his tumultuous upbringing and accompanying resentment he’s held onto since, tends to weigh on him in not the most normal ways, much less manifest into the solutions for it all he’s arrived at. But, so much of the turmoil he faces is of his own making, yet he still chooses to feed it more and more in order to maintain any semblance of “normalcy” and sustained prestige, no matter what sacrifices he has to make to be assured of it. Watching the character’s slowly churning and creepy demeanor play out is actually quite a treat, and very well played by Friebe. Kigin as the stalwart Detective Abby is ultimately the other primary character here, a cop in need to prove that Mitch is a monster while also dealing with her own inner issues, possible spurred on by her own past and related issues like Mitch. Seeing as she pieces together the bigger picture and follows up on the suspicions she’s always had is effectively done, with a finale for her character that is a really satisfying kicker to the proceedings, well acted by Kigin.

A multitude of supporting turns are present here, from the aforementioned Figueroa as former Stockridge flame Sophie, Kelly as a doubting Detective Logan, Morgan as the demanding publisher Natalie, Raizor as Mitch’s father Carver, the source of much grief for his son, and Leali as Mitch’s best friend Nick, whose loyalty it put to the test involuntarily, plus an entire host of others including Reid Meadows, Gleb Krotov, Dina Najjar, Haley Haas, and Sarah Alexandria.    In total, “A Brilliant Monster” stands as a uniquely entertaining slice of independent film that creatively plays on its premise with purpose while actually being a cautionary tale about what it means to attain greatness.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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