The Will: Film Review

Courtesy of ChapmanWorks Production
Much like the film's characters, you'll desperately want to escape the luridly melodramatic proceedings

Alexander Chapan's debut feature concerns a dysfunctional family confined on a private island until the reading of their patriarch's will

Imagine Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as soap opera and you get some idea of the absurdities of The Will. This debut effort from Norwegian filmmaker Alexander Chapan manages to stuff such lurid plot elements as sexual abuse, suicide, murder, and gambling, drug and alcohol addictions into its mercifully brief running time, practically screaming the need for commercial breaks along the way.

The melodramatic storyline concerns a severely dysfunctional family brought together by the death of their billionaire father, who’s stipulated that they be confined on his private island until his will can be read. Anyone who leaves beforehand for any reason will pay the penalty of forfeiting their inheritance.

Cue the melodrama, as the scheming elderly matriarch (Beth Hallo) seeks to control everyone around her, including the family lawyer and a young servant, both of whom she sleeps with, although in the latter case it’s not exactly voluntary on his part.

Much of the plot revolves around gay son Ricky (Matthew Wise) and his lover Robert (Alex Montaldo) who bonds with Ricky’s traumatized sister Emmy (Susan Porro) when he reveals a dark secret from his past.    

As the body count rises, the proceedings are frequently interrupted by newscasts from a female television news reporter on the scene, so awkwardly rendered that they seem like parody.

The amateurishness of the filmmaking is matched by the oppressive musical score and the awfulness of the acting, with the large ensemble vainly struggling to make their one-note characters remotely credible.

During the end credits, we’re treated to a lengthy screed from the director informing us of the travails that occurred during the film’s production. But an apology would have been more in order, as they’re nothing compared to what audiences will be going through while watching this painfully inept enterprise.

Opens Feb. 28 (ChapanWorks Productions, Achilles Motion)

Cast: Susan Porro, Alex Montaldo, Beth Hallo, Don Scime, Jeff Horn, Eileen Woods, Matthew Wise, Martina Bjare, Eliza Morales Brown, Talia Gordon, Gregory Roman, Morten Ruda, Vasan Thepnok, Courtney Warner

Director/screenwriter: Alexander Chapan

Producers: Alexander Chapan, Theodore Goldman

Director of photography: Vincent De Paula

Composer: Henning Berg

Not rated, 72 min.