Dead Billy is a masterfully made film that is both technically flawless and a wonderfully written story.
Hello everyone Kevin of Film Fervor here bringing you another Independent film review. Today we will be discussing Writer/Director Scotty Milder’s 2016 psychological thriller Dead Billy. Starring Lauren Myers, John Hardy, Frank Taylor Green and featuring Gordon Clapp.
Dead Billy focuses on the life of young grad student Calliope who’s ideal world is turned upside down when her boyfriend proposes to her sending her into a seizure and causing her to have horrible flashbacks of her old life. The resulting trauma sends the young woman on a trip to find her old lover the abusive, manipulative and charismatic Vietnam veteran Billy (called Dead Billy by his platoon mates) against the recommendation of her rescuer and her own common sense. The trip brings more flashbacks as she goes to find Billy’s daughter, a foul mouthed comedian Alissa, the only one who might know where to find him.
Dead Billy is one of those very rare independent films where they deliver not only a stellar story but actual established and fairly well known actors in the film. Right of the bat let me say the writing done by Scotty Milder is some of the best I have had the pleasure to review. The story of the abused victim seeking out her tormentor has been done many times but the class and twists supplied by Dead Billy is enough to revitalize the concept and keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire feature length film. Never once does the film fall into the same old tired tropes that psychological thrillers tend to get shunted in to, nor does it grind to a mind numbing halt that other films of the genre tend to (The Master comes to mind) mainly due to the stellar performances delivered by the cast.
Justin’s Notes – I’m going to have to agree with The Master being one of the worst films in all of history. Second to A Simple Plan. Yuck.
Lauren Myers and John Hardy play off each other so well as Calliope and Billy that it is easy to accept and grasp the intricacies of their dysfunctional relationship while truly feeling appalled by their actions and the great acting doesn’t end there. Frank Taylor Green’s Roy comes across as both sympathetic and a complete ass at the same time as he reacts to Calliope’s revelations about her past not only is this because of his powerful performance but a testament again to Scotty Milder’s writing talents.
The cinematography of Dead Billy is perhaps some of the best I have ever seen. The use of awkward camera angles and uncomfortable close ups along with the strange colors and shapes Calliope’s disturbed mind perceives during her seizures really adds a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere to the film. This is also helped by the fact the shots are all crystal clear and very well edited and put together. Never once does the camera darken so much that you can’t see what is going on nor does it shake and jar you out of the compelling narrative, the true mark of professionalism in my opinion.
The audio work of Dead Billy is just as impressive as the cinematography. The soundtrack is well thought out and subtle always adding an air of menace or melancholy that fits each scene perfectly. The voices of the actors are clear and audible at all times and there is no annoying artifacts or hissing present at all during the film. I can’t state enough how important this is especially in a thriller movie where you need to focus on every sense available in the medium to tell your story, nor how many times other films fall flat because of this mistake. Truly this is professional level work from the production team.
Dead Billy is an emotional roller-coaster of a film that really lives up to it’s tag line, “This is not a love story”. With stellar performances by the entire cast of both up and comers and Hollywood alumni and the sensational writing my writer/director Scotty Milder I can recommend this film enough. If you like psychological thrillers that will keep you guessing throughout the film then Dead Billy at one hundred and twenty-seven minutes raises the bar and will not leave you wanting.
This film as renewed my interest in the genre and I very solidly give it Five out of Five Stars.
Justin’s Notes – I’m so pleased with this film. Masterfully made, well thought out and wonderfully told. The acting was superb and the technical aspects were done flawlessly. So happy with this one.