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The Independent Critic

Chris Fornatoro, Bill Brock, Kevin Gottschalk
Kent Lamm
Kent Lamm, Chris Fornatoro
NR (Equiv. to "R")
96 Mins.

 "Bad is Bad" Review 
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George (Bill Brock) is a well loved small town family man who comes face-to-face with his past and has to pay for the worst thing he's ever done after two mysterious young men break into his home.

Produced on a mere $6,000 budget, Bad is Bad was shot in 18.5 days in Richmond, Virginia using the Canon 7d. Co-written by director Kent Lamm and co-star Chris Fornatoro when they were only 19-years-old, the film is as much a psychological thriller as it is a crime thriller with the back-and-forth between George and the young men that break into his home, Jesse (Fornatoro) and Ray (Kevin Gottschalk), absolutely mesmerizing.

The film is most effective when Lamm focuses on the spoken and unspoken connection between George and Jesse, a connection that is slowly revealed and, even once revealed, feels as if it is further stripped away in layers. The film's action sequences, on the other hand, are the scenes where Bad is Bad doesn't quite gel as the scenes lack the intensity that one usually expects from physical altercations/conflicts (The exception to this would be an early, well paced scene at a gas station).

Virginia natives Lamm and Fornatoro are now students at USC, having headed out to LA planning to make it in the film industry. If Bad is Bad is any indication of their talent, Lamm and Fornatoro just may make it.

The two raised the money for the film by working part-time jobs and winning cash prizes in short film competitions, and while Bad is Bad looks and feels like a low-budget indie (especially in the sound department) it's a promising debut that is shot quite nicely, acted surprisingly well and scripted with a nice blend of intelligence and emotion.

It's Fornatoro, in particular, who really slams a home run in the acting department as the mysterious Jesse. For quite some time, it's unclear whether Jesse is just completely freakin' nuts or if he's a psycho with an agenda. Even as the story unfolds, it becomes impossible to take sides for or against the young man thanks to Fornatoro's complex and emotionally resonant performance. Bill Brock is also solid as George, a happily married family man who believes he's moved beyond his past. As Jesse's companion in the home invasion, Kevin Gottschalk could almost be the comically inept right-hand man if he weren't so damn frightening anyway.

Neil Grochmal lenses the film exceptionally well, capitalizing on the strengths of the Canon 7d while largely transcending the limitations of a low-budget pic. Chris Cosby's original music companions the film well without dominating it.

Determined to get their film seen, producers Lamm, Fornatoro and Gottschalk have put the entire thing online on Vimeo hoping to build buzz and viewer awareness that will help them fund their next project. While watching a film on a monitor is never the preferred setting, doing so in this case is a terrific introduction to low-budget cinema's strengths and challenges.

For more information on Bad is Bad, visit the Oh Good Productions website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic