1 April 2015 | bob the moo
Professionally presented but lacking content and consistency in what it is trying to do (although I am not really sure what that is)
Perhaps we have enough good examples now so that the old "rapper slash actor" banner does not hold out as much terror as it once did, however for me at least, the words "debut from acclaimed music-video director" still makes a chill run deep into my core. I did make an effort to put this to one side, although knowing that director Tilley is probably most recently well-known for the absurdly gratuitous Anaconda video for Nicki Minaj, really didn't make me hold out high hopes for this film of suicide being any good.
The plot sees a young man trying and failing to take his own life, and instead turns to an online service where you pay for your own murder instead. As a story it is really very uneven; at times it seems events-driven, at others it seems to want to be slow and reflective – resting on the conflicted face of Victor for longer periods; it is also slightly comedic at times, but then has rather corny moments of "opening up" too. I really was at a loss for what it was trying to do because, if I got interested in the plot then it generally seemed to go away from that, while if I tried to find interest in the character of Victor then it also gave me very little; the ending also suggests that this was what it was all about all along, but if this is true then this was too obvious and really not as impacting as it must have thought.
The weakness in material and tone is really what hurts the film, and also all those involved in it. Chancelor Bennett (aka Chance the Rapper) plays his Victor as naturally and awkwardly as he can, but there is never really a character behind this shuffling awkwardness; this is a big problem since I really did have much reason to be interested in him and it was an one-note character. The direction probably didn't help him with this, since the characters generally are poor but the shots are good and production values high – it does look and sound good, with nice design of the images throughout, but it is incredibly superficial since it really has nothing going on below this. In the end the obvious ending comes and goes, and we are left no wiser (or interested) about the character, the idea of assisted suicide, or indeed what we were supposed to make of the whole thing. The twist of the ending does introduce another understanding into the title, but again it is one that is left unexplored or commented on.
Maybe this film was a reaction by Tilley to giving the world Anaconda – I could see that video causing all those involved to look long and hard at themselves in the mirror and re-evaluate, ultimately deciding to spent that time and talent on making something more worthy. Sadly this is not it, and instead we get an uneven and unfocused film with really very little consistently going, all in service of an ending which the viewers will all arrive at a good few scenes before the film actually does. This is not to say that the film is awful – it isn't, but it is a fairly pointless short that really offers the viewer little, during or after.