Starring: Matt Geiler, Kimberly Kurtenbach Furness, Clint Curtis, Justin Marxen, Candice Rose, Max Nelson;
Written and Directed by: Lonnie Schuyler;
MPAA Rating: NR;
Running Time: NA;
Distributed by: Storybench/Independent
Jack (Matt Geiler) is a loser. Seriously. A serious loser. Jack's job is on the line, his ex-wife Deb (Kimberly Kurtenbach Furness) is moving on and his son, Cody (Max Nelson), thinks he's a joke.
Finally, Jack gets fed up and decides to try to win back the love of his Deb and the respect of Cody.
Love, Honor and Paintball. This is Splatter, the latest full-length feature from indie writer/director Lonnie Schuyler, whose background includes being a series regular on Melrose Place and Models, Inc. before turning his attention to writing and directing with films like Bottom Feeders, Beneath the Mississippi and last year's short Drop Gun.
Already becoming a favorite on the festival circuit, Splatter has already been called the "Caddyshack of paintball movies," a realistic comparison given the film's wide-ranging humor, genuine heart, abundant goofiness and its genuine affection for its key characters. The film took home the prize for Best Feature at the 2010 Cedar Rapids International Film Festival and has also been an official selection at Dances With Films, San Antonio Film Festival and September 2010's Central Florida Film Festival.
Splatter feels like a unique intertwining of Caddyshack with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story with touches of Jason Lee's My Name is Earl television series thrown in for good measure.
Matt Geiler gives a solid performance as Jack, an essentially good-hearted guy who is practically the definition of a lovable loser. Geiler nicely sells Jack with both qualities, lovable and loser, giving the audience a character to root for in a film that requires it. His scenes with Deb are a joy, owing as much to the hilariously off-kilter turn by Kimberly Kurtenbach Furness who is both sympathetic and very, very funny.
After having recently sat through M. Night Shyamalan's monumental failure The Last Airbender, in which virtually every child actor came off as, well, a child actor, it was refreshing here to see such a vibrant, natural performance from Max Nelson as Cody. The rest of the ensemble cast are strong, as well, an unusual feat for modestly budgeted indie cinema.
While the central plot device, of redemption through paintball, is absurd in its manifestation, in Splatter its played with such sincerity amidst the humor that its inevitable to be drawn into the story.
While the film drags a bit in a few spots and occasionally crosses the line into predictability, Schuyler has written with such clarity and authenticity that even in the most cliche'd moments the characters themselves are completely appealing. Christine Youngstrom's production design is vibrant and perfectly attuned to the film's attitude, while D.P. Eric Dean Freese lenses the film beautifully while filming the climactic paintball battles with a touch of excitement blended into the inevitable humor.
Splatter will remain on the film festival circuit for several more months while a DVD distribution deal is sought once its run wraps up. While Splatter may not be the kind of film that most festival crowds are used to seeing, this comedic gem is definitely worth catching if it comes to your town. Look for it, San Antonio, when it comes to you on September 3rd, 2010!
For more information on Splatter, visit the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic