Murder, Anyone? is a hysterical horror comedy and wonderful tribute to the late Emmy-winning comedy writer Gordon Bressack.
Please make sure to watch through the credits!
Bressack originally wrote his script as a stage play, which premiered at the White Fire Theatre in Los Angeles in 2017. His son, James Cullen Bressack, directed a beautiful tribute in adapting the play for the screen. The film might be 80 minutes long but it’s full of non-stop hysterics and never feels too theatrical. It’s a fascinating premise and Pinky and the Brain‘s Maurice LaMarche delivers a rare live-action performance as a playwright arguing with his co-writer over what to write. I love how things unfold throughout the film. It may be a small indie film but I cannot recommend this horror comedy enough. For those that might be on the fence, the film plays more to the comedy side than horror.
George (Maurice LaMarche) and co-writer (Charlie (Charles M. Howell IV) are arguing over what their next play should be. The goal is to write a “avant-garde, surrealistic, mind-bending neo-noire thriller” but it’s a question of writing something that’s art house or has commercial value. Anyway, we see their ideas come to life on screen as they write and rewrite. Not only do we see their ideas but both emotions and arguments play out during the theatrical scenes. First, there’s Cooper (Kristos Andrews), who is clearly a murderer but we do not know exactly which type. Secondly, there’s Bridgette (Galadriel Stineman), who is at her parents’ home. Cooper happens to be friends with Blain (Spencer Breslin) and it gets pretty messy from here on out but in a funny way, of course.
I’m not really going to delve further into the film’s plot because I don’t want to give too much away. All you need to know, really, is that it’s about a pair of writers who are writing a play and that their emotions and arguments end up manifesting on screen when the film transitions to the play itself. The fact that it’s only 80 minutes long means that this film is a quick breeze to watch. I know that you only have so much time to watch things but this one is definitely worth the watch.
Many of us know Maurice LaMarche from his voice work–THE BRAIN–and he has some fun during the film. His live-action film appearances are rare but he definitely makes the best of them. There’s a scene late in the movie where he does a Jack Nicholson impression. But aside from that, it’s LaMarche like many of us have never seen before. Well, that is unless you’ve attended comic cons or interviewed him during a press junket. Or maybe you watched 1981’s Funny Farm or the special features on Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie. You know his work from the likes of Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Zootopia, to name a few. In this film, he’s basically standing in for the late Gordon Bressack. Bressack’s writing partner, Charles M. Howell IV, plays the writing partner in this film, too.
I’ve been following Galadriel Stineman’s work for several years now, going back to her appearance in Ben 10: Alien Swarm. She’s made appearances in a number of TV series and made-for-TV movies but this film gives her an opportunity to lead a feature film that isn’t made-for-TV. In this film, Stineman is crushing the accent work. She deserves every award that she’s won for this film!
Cinematographer Michael Moghaddam handles beautifully lights the film whether it’s the black-and-white focus on the writing of the play or the vivid colors when we see the stage play come to life. It’s only towards the end of the film when the real-life portion transitions to living color. Theoderic Ripper’s editing seamlessly weaves between the two formats, making sure that jokes end when they should . I cannot say enough wonderful things about the score from Tim Jones. It captures our attention from the moment that the opening credits begin on screen. It’s everything that one would expect from music in the genre.
Murder, Anyone? features some wonderful performances from Galadriel Stineman and Maurice LaMarche in a hysterical tribute to Gordon Bressack. If this film has a legacy, it’s that more people should know Bressack’s writing. Hopefully the film doesn’t end up going too under-the-radar because, who knows, maybe there are more unproduced screenplays that we don’t know about?!?
DIRECTOR: James Cullen Bressack
SCREENWRITER: Gordon Bressack
CAST: Kristos Andrews, Galadriel Stineman, Maurice LaMarche, Charles M. Howell IV, Carla Collins, with Spencer Breslin and Sally Kirkland
Uncork’d Entertainment released Murder, Anyone? on digital on February 7, 2023. Grade: 4/5
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