Will Bernish, Timothy J. Cox, Tatiana Ford, and Matt Moores
Brandon Block (Based on story by Maxwell Gontarek)
Written and directed by Brandon Block and based upon a story by Maxwell Gontarek, Psychic Murder is described by the team behind it as a surreal comedy in telling the story of a young stand-up comic, Billy (Will Bernish), who finds his stride when instead of hiding his three-fingered hands he begins to make jokes about them. With a little success at hand, giggle, he attracts the attention of Mickey Goldsmith (Timothy J. Cox), who dangles the golden carrot in front of Billy and offers to represent him.
Psychic Murder is a dark comedy, though perhaps not as dark as it could have been in portraying the dark underbelly of the entertainment scene as it preys upon those desperate for anything resembling a little stardom. Cox's Mickey is dark and predatory, a predatory presence that is enhanced by Bethany Michalski's off-kilter yet effective lensing and Corey Johnson's crowd track that feels like it belongs in some retro horror flick.
There is no question that some of the pieces of Psychic Murder that bothered me most were, in fact, intentional artistic choices that will resonate more deeply and successfully with those who get into the film's alternative groove. The sound, for example, seems to vacillate between spaces as if it was dancing through a kaleidoscope in a Rob Zombie film, an effect that I'm almost sure is intentional yet simply didn't work for me. The film's three-fingered hands are, indeed, rather surreal in presentation and it almost feels like we're watching a distant cousin of John Merrick's try stand-up. Again, I have no doubt this is an intentional choice but it was ineffective and rather distracting for me.
Bernish's performance fits well within the world that is, let's be honest, dominated by Cox's larger than life performance as Mickey. Tatiana Ford also holds her own as Puma.
In the end, Psychic Murder is the kind of film that fans of indie and experimental film will enjoy talking about even if it's not one they necessarily enjoy. Cox has become a bit of an indie master in portraying these types of dark, self-serving fellows and for his performance alone Psychic Murder is worth checking out.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic