The Beach Party at the Threshhold of Hell
by Andrew James
First off, let me be honest and say that I was absolutely and totally exhausted before the film even screened, so my review is probably slightly negatively skewed as I all I could think about at the time was crawling into a warm bed and sleeping for the 16 hours. Still, let me try to be fair...
The plot is deep and difficult to explain and I'm not about to go into detail; but basically, it follows several characters on their way across what's left of the United States 20 years after nuclear holocaust has devasted the land. Tex Kennedy (yes, those Kennedy's) and his two bodyguards (androids with unique and annoyingly funny characteristics) are attempting to find Benny, the proclaimed king of the new country, and return him to his rightful spot on the throne. Meanwhile an evil clan, led by a maniacal man who believes the throne should be his, is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to deny Tex and his cohorts at entering the threshold of hell to retrieve Benny.
The movie is, if nothing else, creative and original. I've never seen a storyline that has been given so much thought and heart by an independent film maker. Huge marks need to be given on this point. All of the characters, some acted well and some not so well, are very interesting and a joy to watch. Part of this is due to the fact that although there is a script (obviously), the actors (mostly buddies of writer/director Wheatley) were allowed by the director to kind of play their part how they saw fit. If that meant slightly altering their lines or going all and out improv - so be it.
Besides the main players, there are two very effective cameos. Jane Seymour, of "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" fame gives us a brilliant opening performance as the President of the Unite States confessing to her constituents, that it is in fact all over. Daniel Baldwin terrifically plays Clark Remington; the lone radio voice of hope during the 20 year waiting period as everyone waits in their bunkers for the contamination to dissipate. The cast acquired by a first time, independent film maker is surprising and really pays off.
Everything technically is well done. An interesting style, a quirky and comedic attitude, a great soundtrack and high quality film stock all make for an excellent attempt at filmmaking. Couple this with the great acting and a fun, inventive adventure and it should be a great movie. But it's got too much of one thing: plot. A rare complaint among movies, but as I stated before, Beach Party is just too deep and too long with too many tangents that aren't fully explored or explained and should've been left on the cutting room floor.
Having said that, I again admit I was too tired to care about much of anything and I genuinely look forward to trying this movie again with a clearer mind and deeper understanding of the plotline. I recommend this movie to everyone and think it's got more potential than anything else out there. Especially since part 2 is in the works and I can't wait to see more of this creative and original idea. The intrigue that sets in after the first installment is inescapable.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Myspace profile for Beach Party at the Threshhold of Hell