Following in the footsteps of a famous, successful parent has got to be intimidating – just ask professional Twitter crybaby Max Landis. In the case of Sean Brosnan, son of Pierce, it seems the best course of action is to stray as far from his father’s work as possible. Dad, who has a producer credit on the annoyingly-titled My Father, Die (comma Brosnan’s) wouldn’t be caught dead in the backwoods of Louisiana, never mind how this movie’s treatment of women makes his most famous character look like a feminist icon.
Opening with a prologue, shot in stark monochrome, Brosnan tells us exactly what kind of movie we’re about to watch right off the bat – dark, grimy, rough and violent with a voice-over that starts off grating and becomes headache-inducing by the end. Poor, long-suffering Joe Anderson (The Crazies, Horns) stars in a thankless role as Asher, who is made deaf in childhood by his brute of a father, Ivan (Gary Stretch, beefy but bland).
This incident, along with the unfortunate death of his older brother and best friend (played in grainy flashback by Stranger Things’ Chester Rushing), has led to the old man being sent to prison. Skipping 21 years into the future, Asher is now a grown-up, but no better off. Living with his horrible mother, and rendered mute, he’s spent the past two decades silently plotting revenge. And, upon his father’s release, he finally gets his chance.
The most basic storytelling tricks are misused, from an overindulgence in fade-to-black (for no reason) to the sound being way, way too loud. Attempts at humour and pathos are jarringly out of place, considering practically everybody who exists in this hideous little world is a scumbag aside from Anderson’s Asher, and the childhood friend who takes pity on him, and the only female character with anything to do or say, Nana (End Of Watch‘s Candace Smith).
The treatment of women in My Father, Die is appalling. They exist only as bitches or sexual playthings, and the requisite rape sequence is telegraphed to a stomach-churning degree (when it does finally happen, it barely causes a ripple). The movie tries its damnedest to shock but, in these kinds of scummy little soap operas less is more, and it’s better to hint rather than to, say, literally show someone gyrating on camera for money so she can feed her kid.
In the midst of all this grossness is Anderson who, once again, far outdoes the material he’s given. His scrawny build means Asher is never a match for his father, but we’re still rooting for him. And, in spite of the harsh hand he’s been dealt, Anderson makes him a fighter, instead of the pathetic little runt everyone seems to think he is. His arc is still mishandled, and his fate predictable and dull, but in a sea of sludge he’s the one glint of hope.
My Father, Die was shot in just three weeks on location in Louisiana and it’s to the movie’s credit that the location feels uncomfortably real throughout. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a story here outside of the ill-advised revenge plot we’ve seen a million times over. And in spite of Anderson’s best efforts, and the wannabe art-house cinematography (monochrome and long shots do not equal art, or smart) this is a largely unmemorable, needlessly nasty trudge that leaves a bad taste in the mouth for all the wrong reasons.
WICKED RATING: 4/10
Director(s): Sean Brosnan
Writer(s): Sean Brosnan
Stars: Joe Anderson, Gary Stretch, Chester Rushing, Candace Smith
Studio/ Production Co: Knightmarcher
Length: 102 minutes