10 December 2016 | jeroentoonen
One of the toughest things about writing a review is to decide where to begin. At least for me it is. Let me explain. I've had the honor to watch James Cullen Bressack's first feature film and I have tons of thoughts running wild right now. I just finished watching it and it's around 4 AM in the morning. Maybe not the perfect time to write, or even think properly for that matter, but you can't fake enthusiasm...and right now I'm full of it. There's no better time to review: MY PURE JOY.
I don't usually write summary's for the slasher films I review. Why not? Because the story lines rarely matter much. That being said, My Pure Joy is far from a standard Slasher film. Sure you've got your masked killer and graphic violence, but the neat storytelling and the rather deep view into the insane mind of a 19-year old killer makes me want to tell all about it.
We meet Adam, a 19 year old male living with this mother. Nothing strange so far. But it doesn't take long before the truth is revealed. The unfortunate death of his father and, so it seems, an overdose of gory horror films has made him the ruthless killer he is today. A cheap shot to blame the influence of media on the psyche of a person, or just a tongue-in-cheek excuse and meant-to-be hypocrite note on his love for the genre? I'd say the second.
James is the director, writer, editor...dude seriously? Yes. And there's more. He was a camera operator, he is the co-owner of a new label called Psykik Junky Pictures... and he's only 19 years old. Massive respect for this guy. That's a lot of work for one person. But he's obviously up for it. I always think it's 50% talent, and for the other half you'll need a unhealthy love for the genre. And both come to show in this film, it can't be missed.
He's referring to the most obscure and brilliant films the genre has to offer. Not only my Japanese hero 'Takashi Miike' is mentioned but also the extreme French wave with titles such as Inside and Martyrs are spoken off with a lot of respect. It doesn't stop there. I was starstruck when he mentioned stuff like Dard Divorce and even an older Ittenbach film named ''Premutos''. Then there's a bunch of classic (cult) films lying around on the floor and film posters throughout the house. The amount of knowledge, fun and respect for these films and the genre in general just warms my heart.
How's the acting? Adam is a smartly written character, a truly interesting young mind...but it's not easy to play such a part. It was up to Alexei Ryan to make it work, and he did it... he f-ing did it. It's one of the most impressive parts I've seen in a long time. Certainly one of my favorite serial killers from now on. Honestly, I was disturbed by his facial expressions and he often makes the rest of the cast look bad. Don't get me wrong, it's all just fine. Especially his two buddies play it very naturally which is just perfect.
Their conversations take up a lot of time. And by a lot, I mean a lot. But it's never a problem. To be honest, I loved the writing. As I mentioned before the movie-talk keeps it amazingly cool and down to earth. Also, the emotional 'explosions' (lack of a better word) take you in deeper and deeper. For instance the scene at the party. It has this great vibe and the acting is convincing. I loved how James shot the scene in one long take. Very, very impressive. He brought up Irréversible later on in the film, so if I had to make a guess... I'd say it inspired him at least a little bit to do it this way. Very brave, and it payed off big time.
I can't think of any other film with this many references while still remaining a piece of its own. In this case it's the psychological part that makes it somehow different from the rest. Sure, the graphic scenes are eye-catching and sometimes disturbingly brutal, but they aren't the core of this film. One of them is actually capable of catching even the biggest horror hounds off guard. That's taking it to the edge my friend... At the end they talk about Srpski Film (A Serbian Film) and it would've fit that film perfectly.
This might just be my longest review so far. There's no stopping me right now, there's so much more to talk about. The mask? Amazing! Great design, simple but extremely effective. The music? Smooth, and it fits the style perfectly. There's no way I can find anything to poop on as a true (indie)horrorfan. I just hope this film gets a beautiful global release right after it hits the festivals and who knows what else. It's a must see, and I'll be recommending it non- stop from now on. It's probably one of the coolest horror films of the last couple of years, I kid you not.