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Doomsdays: Film Review

The Bottom Line

Scruffily enjoyable comedy shows what a zombie pic would look like without the zombies or life-and-death stakes

Venue

Fantasia International Film Festival

Cast

Justin Rice, Leo Fitzpatrick, Brian Charles Johnson, Laura Campbell

Director-Screenwriter

Eddie Mullins

Eddie Mullins makes his debut with a "pre-apocalyptic" comedy.

MONTREAL — In Eddie Mullins' enjoyably antisocial comedy Doomsdays, a pair of slackers find an excuse for a lifestyle of trespassing and theft in an apocalypse that hasn't quite happened yet. Peak oil is gonna bring civilization to an end soon, the thinking goes, so why not start the looting now? The premise may be only tenuously related to Fantasia's sci-fi/horror/fanboy brief, but its casually amoral characters are in sync with their more on-edge cousins in zombie pics; any excuse is adequate to present a film with real potential to connect with audiences beyond the fest circuit.

Justin Rice, having acquired a shaggy, dissolute air since starring in Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation, and Leo Fitzpatrick (Kids) play a pair of mismatched friends moving from squat to squat in a part of New York state where uninhabited vacation homes outnumber year-round residences by a good margin. The men use the high-end dwellings wantonly, tossing unwanted pantry items on the floor and shattering highball glasses before they've even finished whatever bottle of single-malt scotch the owner had on hand.

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The vandalism may provide jaded amusement for Dirty Fred (Rice), but with Bruho (Fitzpatrick) it resembles misguided activist anger: The amusingly volatile young man slashes the tires of some cars and bashes in windows of others, believing he's making a dent in the world's suicidal addiction to fossil fuels. Meanwhile, Fred is picking up girls in locals-only bars, making exclamations like "Splendid!" and "Capital idea!" as he moves the party to houses he barely pretends to own.

In the course of picaresque adventures the fellas acquire a protege (Brian Charles Johnson's Jaidon), a tubby college-age kid given the dirty job of testing houses for residents and alarms. Then they meet Reyna (Laura Campbell), who becomes a girlfriend to Fred and takes much longer than expected before threatening the balance of their boy's club friendship.

Mullins knows just how much plot this enterprise requires (answer: not a lot), avoiding boredom by giving the quartet reasons to leave houses behind and, eventually, to fracture. The script offers enough laughs to get the film described as a comedy, but is no more intent on keeping them coming than Fred is on cleaning the blazer and tie he wears throughout this rustic adventure. An air of casual competence characterizes all tech departments; the jaunty acoustic score by Bang & Yell is particularly appropriate.

Production Company: Hundo Plus

Cast: Justin Rice, Leo Fitzpatrick, Brian Charles Johnson, Laura Campbell

Director-Screenwriter: Eddie Mullins

Producers: Melissa Mugavero, Eddie Mullins

Executive producers: Janet Hicks, Taylor Reveley, Justin Rice

Director of photography: Cal Robertson

Production designer: Spencer Anderson

Music: Bang & Yell

Costume designer: Lisa Padovani

Editor: Chad Smith

No rating, 91 minutes