15 November 2009

Batman Portraits of Evil: Silent Night

Starring Craig Deering, Joe Korbel, Katie Diedrick, Tom Skobel,
Adrianna Lombardo
Directed by Craig Deering & Allen Murphy
Screenplay by Kyle Bridges
Evil Iguana Productions, 32 mins., 2009

I remember a little over a year ago perusing through YouTube trying to find anything and everything Dark Knight, even a new TV spot that has at least a half-second of new footage that would give me a little better clue as to what to expect from this sure-fire orgasmically awesome sequel to an already orgasmically awesome franchise rebooter. Well, there wasn't much of those, but there were already plenty of spoofs and parodies online. One of the more famous and watched is the much loved "Interrogation Scene Spoof" (it's truly a classic, and kudos to everyone involved in that), but there was another one that made me go hehe-haha quite a bit as well: called "The Dark Knight Trailer Spoof", it was one of the funnier of the spoofs (I'm sorry video creators, but there's just some so-called "spoofs" that just feel more awkward and less funny than a episode of The Office [both versions]), and was created by a rather oddly named group: Evil Iguana Productions. Well, luckily their group name was weird enough that it stuck in my head.

Fast forward to this evening. It's the week of release for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and me being sick of the love-fest and
goo-goo-ga-ganess over Edward and Jacob, I wanted to escape the frenzy and watch some much-needed Twilight spoofing. I had recently watched the SNL Taylor Swight "Firelight", which was amusing (I loved the hell outta Swift mimicking Stewart by her constant lip biting) but not all that stellar. Unfortunately, the majority of Twilight spoofs online didn't deliver, either.

However, my watching of the "
New Moon Trailer Spoof" from good ol' Evil Iguana Productions led me to a Megavideo link of something called Batman Portrait of Evil: Silent Night (and I honestly thought it was Batman fighting a evil Santa Clause, a la the Silent Night, Deadly Night flicks). A 32-minute flick, credits included, with the Joker, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, and a house seige set on Christmas Eve? Count me in. And considering it's a fan-made project with a small budget and a couple of Batman-lovin' enthusiasts...it's pretty damn good.

Gotham City, Christmas Eve. Batman's on edge, worried about the Joker's whereabouts after his break-out of Arkham a little over a month earlier, waiting for the deranged psychopath to strike. Commissioner Gordon shares a drink with a fellow officer giving her the good news of her promotion. But the happy stuff ends there, as the Joker and his lackeys invade a policeman's house, holding his wife and two children hostage. Throughout the night, the Joker attempts to break the policeman's sanity, forcing him to make life and death decisions and undergo torture, all to prove a point. Anyone can break; all it takes is
one. bad. day.

If the last line sounds familiar, it should. Much to my happiness and therefore kudos to the Evil Iguana crew, there's lines and quite a lot of inspiration originating from Alan Moore's
The Killing Joke, a Joker-centric tale that has him forcing Gordon to undergo torturous trials in an attempt to make him lose his sanity and morality.

Moving away from the spoof genre, the folks at Evil Iguana instead conceived their own script using existing characters and created a engaging 32-minute movie with some impressive performances and tight script.

First up, acting wise - it's great. Director Deering plays double duty reprising his role of Joker from the trailer spoof, and even improves upon it. Freakishly emulating Ledger's Joker rather well (and by far better than the majority of YouTube videos I've seen of people trying to do the role justice), complete with the trademark voice and that thing Heath did with his lip. Considering that the Joker is front and center throughout the film's running time, maintaing the Joker's threat and creating an performance that would keep the viewer involved is paramount, Deering did fantastic. There's several moments that I loved, but one that was quite hilarious involved the Joker sitting in front of a picture.

As husband and wife, Tom Skobel and Adrianna Lombardo were quite good (although Lombardo looked quite young compared to her gray-haired hubby), particularly Skobel as he's mentally being broken down by the Joker's antics. Blow after blow, Skobel nicely conveys this man's descent to lunacy. Lombardo has limited screentime, sadly, as she's quite pretty. Writer Kyle Bridges channels a little Leonardo DiCaprio-
Departed-ish with a New York accent as Commissioner Gordon; a solid performance, but sadly unable to fully emulate the awesomeness of Gary Oldman (my apologies, I'm just totally diggin' what Oldman's done with the character).

This being a Joker film, Batman's not a important part of the story, and is thus noticeably absent through most of the movie. And although it was great seeing Batman, he could have been exercised from the film entirely, and I wouldn't have minded. So, basically, all around greatness.

The script is brilliant and beautiful. By beautiful, I mean it works on many levels. Thanks to the great performances and the wonderful script, the tension is all there; I'm sitting in front of my computer wondering what the Joker's going to do next. He's unhinged, loco, ready and willing to do
anything. When Lombardo's children are taken away, I'm worried; when the Joker picks up a present, my heart's beating faster because I wanna know what he's going to do with it (hehehe, oh the result). The dialog's great, the idea is exceptional. It's just...well, it's bloody dandy, folks.

In fact, the only real negative thing I can say is that they far over-use James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer's scores for
Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Yes, that music does help create the appropriate atmosphere, and yes they are using Heath Ledger's Joker as a inspiration, but that doesn't mean other music can't be consulted (I'm looking at you, too, fellow movie makers).

I know I may seem awfully giddy for a simple fan-made project, but out of the multiple low-budget movies I've watched on YouTube, none have grabbed me, impressed me, and kept me as enticed from beginning to end as
Silent Night did. You may not find it as pleasing and marvelous as me, but this entire 32-minute short felt like a continuation of Christopher Nolan's film, and I know it would happen in a hundred years, but I would LOVE for something like this to be brought to the big screen for reelz. Just, y'know, check it out, see if you like it. At the very least, give Evil Iguana Productions a look through, I know you're guaranteed a laugh.

No comments: