Dylan Vigus, Gary Cairns, Matthew Thompson, James Lee Martinec
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
NR (Equiv. to "R")
Breaking Glass Pictures
Director's statement about teen bullying; Interview w/Gary Cairns and James Lee; Interview with computer Coby C; Music Video for "Knocking at Your Door"; Audio Commentary w/Cory Cataldo, Gary Cairns and Dylan Vigus
Will (Dylan Vigus) is an overweight misfit terrorized by his psycho father (James Peak) at home and his peers at school. He finds comfort with three classmates who face similar abuse day in and day out. With practically no guidance or sense of purpose, the four friends spend their days getting high, commiserating with one another and inching ever more closely to their breaking points. With nothing to lose and no escape in sight, the four finally decide to unleash their inner voices in a whirlwind of pranks, partying and, ultimately, relentless destruction.
Written and directed by Cory Cataldo, Mad World is about a world gone made for these four high school students who find themselves in a nightmarish, drugged-out existence while growing up in conservative America. Remember when Uwe Boll tried to tackle the Columbine killings with his Heart of America? Where Boll didn't quite get there, Cataldo actually succeeds in painting a picture that is so deliriously realistic that you're not quite sure if you're supposed to laugh or cry.
Coming out at a time in the U.S. when teen bullying is under the national media microscope, Cataldo's Mad World takes it to extreme in a dark, dark comedy with horrifying potential. Will's friends include Cory (Gary Cairns), a born trouble maker, John (Matthew Thompson), an African-American male raised by freakishly white parents and Jevon (James Lee), a straight-A student who spends his days droppin' acid and scaring the crap out of just about anyone who meets him.
In his directorial debut, Cataldo has crafted a flawed yet unforgettable film that boldly goes where almost no film on the subject of teen bullying would have the balls to go...straight to the heart of what creates the beasts that keep us up at night. In case you're wondering, "we" create the beasts that keep us up at nights.
The film is narrated by Will, but each member of the quartet gets a chance to be center stage. Fortunately for Cataldo, relative newcomer Dylan Vigus is a solid find who makes the most of his time front and center. Vigus manages to be sympathetic, compelling and a bit repulsive as the rather sad sack Will. At times, Will is so morose that you find yourself thinking "Heck, even I'd pick on him." Then, it hits you "That's how it all begins." Vigus's Will is infinitely watchable and intriguing. For the most part, the remainder of the quartet is solid as well, though the film's supporting cast is quite a bit more hit-and-miss in the acting department.
Cataldo also occasionally has a few pacing issues, scenes that linger just a touch long or, on the flip side, scenes that don't quite linger long enough. For the most part, it seems like first-time director issues that are overcome with Cataldo's spot on screenplay.
D.P. Brandon Trost (MacGruber, Halloween II) does a nice job of portraying the spiraling nightmarishness of the entire scenario that's unfolding. Trost avoids excessive camera tricks, instead managing to capture both the human and the inhumane aspects of Cataldo's story with images that shock and disturb and unsettle.
Mad World hits DVD on May 24th, and will be a compelling view for anyone interested in teen dramas, the issue of teen bullying or simply well done indie dramas. Both shocking and sadly familiar, Mad World reveals some made potential from writer/director Cory Cataldo.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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Richard Propes, The Independent Critic