Inspired by a true story, Pretty Bad Actress is a satirical look at how far talent will go to save their careers.
Gloria Green (Heather McComb) is a former child star, best known for playing Trudie, and she’s been struggling ever since. There’s a lot to take in during the opening, which introduces the former child star through magazine clippings. This also helps to introduce Dawnee Von Bummell (Stephanie Hodes). The teenager is obsessed with Trudie, going as far as using the series as a way to study American history. Can you say obsessed?!?
After another failed audition, a Freddie Mercury-lookalike stalker (John Hensley) pretends to be a fan wanting an autograph, only to kidnap her instead. When Gloria’s assistant, Cheryl (Jillian Bell), drives by to pick her up the next day, she starts to get worried. It only makes sense to call the cops but Officers Young (Chris Owen) and Christianson (Kevin Brennan) would rather be playing games than doing their job.
Gloria isn’t the only person who is taken hostage. It turns out that a teenager, Dawnee Von Bommell (Stephanie Hodes), is also tied up in the basement. The teen is just happy to be near her childhood idol whereas Gloria just wants to go home.
Gloria is not the type of person who would flake out on a business meeting when she’s trying to jump start her career. Yet Gloria’s manager, Al (Danny Woodburn), does not appear to show any concern. Once he realizes what’s going on, the dollar signs flash in his eyes and he gets into business with creative executives, Sherry (Senta Moses and Lane (West Liang).
It’s pretty sad when you have a talent manager such as Al only looking at the dollar signs. Rather than focusing on his client’s safe rescue, he’d rather focus on the film that comes out of it. With all of Gloria’s prior problems like PTSD, shouldn’t Al be focusing on what’s best for Gloria’s mental health? Instead, fame and fortune are all that matters for Al.
Then you have an obsessive fan like Dawnee. These are the types that you see online–the ones that people refer to as “stans” because it combines both stalker and fan. You say one negative thing about someone and these are the people who won’t let it end. Sometimes, these stans take it too far. Writer-director Nick Scown perfectly captures this toxic fan culture. I’m not saying that Dawnee is the type of fan who would harass Gloria to no end and drive someone off of social media but it’s pretty darn close.
If there’s a takeaway message from Pretty Bad Actress, it’s to tone things down a notch or two.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Nick Scown
CAST: Heather McComb, Danny Woodburn, Jillian Bell, Chris Owen, John Short, with John Hensley and Stephanie Hodes