There's no question that James Cullen Bressack is a talented filmmaker, though most of my familiarity with Bressack has come via his indie horror work with such films as My Pure Joy, his first feature-length effort, and films like Hate Crime, Pernicious, To Jennifer and 13/13/13.
White Crack Bastard isn't really an indie horror flick, at least not in any real traditional sense. The story of Luke Anderson (Rhett Benz), a photographer/crack addict with, if we're to believe Bressack and the script from Lisa Vachon, with little to no redeeming value. Through his work, he hooks up with Heather (Alexis Dickey) in what we absolutely know from moment one is going to be a seriously messed up relationship that goes nowhere and only hurts Heather.
White Crack Bastard is the kind of film that we film critics encounter every now and then. We interpret it one way, usually differently from how the filmmaker intended it, and are immediately dismissed for not "getting it."
This is not to say that White Crack Bastard is necessarily a bad film. Despite my modest, okay low, rating for the film, the truth is I doubt that Bressack is actually capable of making a bad film. He's got a unique voice with a unique vision and, well, even when I don't resonate with his vision, as is the case here, there's something about the guy I find completely captivating.
White Crack Bastard is being marketed as sort of a cross between Wolf of Wall Street meets Bad Lieutenant, both films I happen to consider to be brilliant films. Where White Crack Bastard falls short, infinitely short, is that it's actually NOTHING like either of these films other than the fact it deals with a tremendously flawed human being and tries, in this case failing, to make a sort of folk hero out of him.
In Wolf of Wall Street, it worked. In Bad Lieutenant, it worked. White Crack Bastard? It's way closer to American Psycho than any other film, mostly because in this film we get one seriously fucked up dude who somehow convinces himself he's in control and becoming some higher version of himself when, in reality, he's just downward spiraling into oblivion.
There's a difference. Ya know?
There was something I enjoyed, or at least appreciated about Benz's performance, a performance that sort of taunts the screen with a sense of faux bravado and masking that anyone who has been around crack users, as I have, will recognize. While some of the symptomatology is contrived, especially as the notion of crack "addiction" itself is debatable, Bressack does a nice job of portraying one man's struggles with addictions and attempts to use that addiction toward some sense of higher purpose. While I wish Vachon's script had laid off the racial stereotypes a bit, or maybe a lot, there's a dynamic between everyone involved that stays with you long after you've watched the film.
So, there you have it.
A confusing film. Heck, a confusing review. I didn't like the film. At all. Yet, I can't really dismiss the film and I still find myself a fan of Bressack's work. The ensemble cast here seems in line with what's going on and it'll be interesting to see how the folks at BrinkVision market the film upon its release on 2/20.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic