“This is my shock therapy.”
We are a horror loving house. We try everything from unheard of indies to Lionsgate paint-by-numbers shit in our efforts to find decent horror flicks. So when fellow Failed Critic – and one of the few whose recommendations I’d watch without question – pointed me in James Cullen Bressack’s direction with To Jennifer, I never looked back.
I’ve bleated on time and time again about my love for Bressack and his films, so I won’t go on too much about it again here. Suffice to say that, with his earlier work not available in the UK, when I get the opportunity to watch and review a JCB flick, I jump in with both feet, dead excited; and White Crack Bastard was no different. Although the side-step from horror to drama left me wondering what I was letting myself in for.
Luke Anderson is the White Crack Bastard of note, a well paid freelance photographer who, in his copious amounts of free time, likes to while away his hours with his raggedy friends and a crack pipe between his lips. Luke isn’t anywhere close to needing to live this life; he does it as a form of therapy and self-medication, justifying it by telling himself that he’s only doing it so that when his head is on straight, he can appreciate what he has in his real life away from the pipe. Luke’s problem is that he isn’t working as much as he should and he’s increasingly spending more time smoking his way towards self-destruction. As he spirals out of control, it starts to effect his life outside of his own personal drug-fuelled therapy sessions and begins to ruin everything for him.
Now let me get this out of the way, because I’m truly mortified that I have to say it. White Crack Bastard is not good. The film is riddled with issues that, when I wasn’t bored, seemed to be put in purposefully to annoy me. For instance, Rhett Benz’s Luke Anderson seems to have an issue keeping track of his car when he goes on a bender. But what might be a running joke in a TV series or a reason to giggle in a longer, more fleshed out film, is simply an annoyance that is apparently put there to use more than once and keep the running time up a bit. It didn’t work in Dude, Where’s My Car? and it certainly didn’t work here.
White Crack Bastard plays like a student film; and that’s ok. It’s fine that everyone from writers to directors need to hone their craft and sharpen their skills and the only way to do that is to keep doing what they are doing. But once you get to a point where your film is getting a VOD release, it’s time to realise that you’re going to be poked and prodded the same way any other film would be. Biases aside, I am aware that this film is a few years old now; that it’s only Bressack’s third film – and more importantly the first that he made but didn’t write or produce. With poor script work from first time writer Lisa Vachon and even worse editing from a guy who hasn’t worked in the industry since; James Cullen Bressack was fighting uphill, on roller skates, with one hand tied behind his back the entire time – and, sadly, it shows.
I’m not sure I can recommend White Crack Bastard to anyone that isn’t a devoted fan of someone involved in its creation; and even then, I think it would be hard to justify anymore than a one-time rental. Bressack’s earlier work, and the films he’s made since, far surpass this messy, incoherent film and I genuinely can’t see any reason to give this film the time of day.
Mr. Cullen Bressack, in the unlikely event you’re reading this, I love you man. Your films have quickly found a special place in my collection and I cannot wait to get my hands on Bethany when it arrives later this year. But man, this wasn’t a film indicative of your skills as a filmmaker at all.
White Crack Bastard gets its first release, three years after completion via BrinkVision on 20 February. Check out the trailer below: