In his directorial debut, Edgardo Flores has created quite the ambitious project in Ill Square,
a multi-layered film with intertwining stories and intertwining genres across three converging tales.
In the first storyline, a lovesick man (Flores) sits at home brokenhearted and hopeless. After months of rebuilding his confidence, he sets out to find his one true love - Instead, he finds something much more complex.
In our next story, a neurotic old man (Barry Schwam) and his son (Joe Fraley) prepare for a zombie invasion after a radio broadcast sets them off. Armed with only a pellet gun and a handsaw, the father/son duo set out to save the world.
Flores bills his film as an "offbeat, experimental musical," and while such a description can often be the seal of doom for over-ambitious yet under-funded indie directors, it's Ill Square's
quirkiness that ultimately allows the film to be a solid example of just how much originality and fun can be found in even the most modestly budgeted film.
Filmed on a reported budget of a mere $2,000, it goes without saying that the film struggles, at times, to achieve all that Flores is trying to achieve with Ill Square.
Yet, there's something absolutely endearing about this ensemble cast, a collection of actors who are obviously here for the love of the craft and its their passion and energy for the project that gives the film an energy that carries it through any production shortcomings.
The real joy of the film comes from Barry Schwam, who is simply delightful, funny and surprisingly heartfelt as the neurotic old man who heads out with his lonely, documentarian son to save the world from the zombie apocalypse. Fraley is nearly his equal, and their scenes together have an easygoing father and son camaraderie that would be infinitely watchable even if they were in a film all their own.
The storyline involving Flores's character pales in comparison to that of Schwam and Fraley, perhaps because it feels a tad more familiar and low-key, even when Flores tosses in an abundance of quirk. There's nothing particularly wrong with Flores's performance, but you simply can't help but wish our father/son duo were back on the screen each time the camera turns away from them.
Flores and Michelle Munjekovich insert lively and spirited camera work into the equation here, while the film's original music matches up nicely with Flores's imaginative dialogue. Munjekovich and Flores are obviously key players behind the scenes for Ill Square,
a consistency that also helps the film overcome its tech challenges.
It should be stressed, especially since tech challenges have been mentioned twice, that Flores accomplishes great things with very little working capital and those who are used to microcinema or low-budget indies will no doubt be impressed by his cinematic debut. While Ill Square
is not flawless, at times coming off as too intentionally quirky or possessing shots that feel gratuitous, it's a promising debut from Edgardo Flores and it will be interesting to watch this up-and-coming filmmaker grow.
is now available on DVD, a great opportunity to support indie film! For more information, visit the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic