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Unstable (2005)

Theatrical Poster #1
Movie Connections:
Unstable
> Unstable (2005)
> Hatred (2006)
Genres / Traits:
Drama, Melodrama, Mystery, Cinéma Vérité
Director:
Anthony Spadaccini Anthony Spadaccini
Starring:
Steve Brown Steve Brown
James Schaeffer James Schaeffer
Bobby Hamilton Bobby Hamilton
Anthony Spadaccini Anthony Spadaccini
Wayland Harris Wayland Harris

7.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 09, 2007
The title of this film is "Unstable". The same word might be used to describe the plot. Whenever a filmmaker sends me a film to critique, I look at it from two angles: (01) the audience's perspective; (02) a critic's perspective. When it's an independent film, I also look at the chances that film has of being recognized on the film festival circuit. To say that I didn't enjoy and appreciate "Unstable" would be an error. I enjoyed parts of it -- large parts of it. As a whole, I would recommend the film. But there were some very glaring errors that I could not get around that did have a very negative impact on me, as a filmmaker, a critic and as a homosexual.

The film is centered around a camping trip. Anthony (Anthony Spadaccini) has just won a major award for one of his films and his best friend Jim (James Schaeffer) has agreed to take him camping to celebrate. But, when Jim discovers than Anthony has invited Bobby (Bobby Hamilton), a homosexual -- Jim flips out. Also along for the trip are Wade (Wayland Harris) -- a very assertive and very compassionate person; Steve (Steve Brown), who serves as the mediator primarily; Eric (Eric Simpson), the country voice of reason; and Chris (Chris Erickson), whose only purpose seems to be to make sure the dog is all right. Jim constantly harasses and tortures Bobby, while everything sits around and does nothing. When Bobby turns up dead, Wade automatically deduces that Jim was the one that did it, while the rest of the group hides behind rationality and wants to wait for the cops.

Let's talk about what doesn't make sense. First off, as fired up as Wade gets at the end, there's not way his character would have sat around and let Jim torture Bobby like that. Second, there are far too many scenes of everyone sitting around and repeating the same things, over and over again, for long periods of time. We got the picture in half the time. Third, the character of Anthony is poorly constructed. He is friends with both Jim and Bobby, but doesn't do very much (other than verbally chastising them) to prevent the problem from continuing. When Bobby is murdered, none of the people there act like normal people would if someone was found dead. And who in their right mind would not automatically know that Jim did it? Friend or not, common sense has to kick in at some point. Last, I had a huge problem with the ending of the film -- the last picture we see. I was watching the whole time hoping that wouldn't end up being how the film ended. When I was right, I was floored. That is far too easy a cop out and the character of Jim was never even given hints of that being possible.

Now, for the good. I always appreciate hand-held films like this. "The Blair Witch Project" opened that door back in 1999 and I love films like that, if they're well done. "Unstable" was well done. I could have done without the music montages, but I enjoyed the conversational approach to the filming and I thought filters used added extra effect in the right places. I also thought most of the performances were on task. For what seemed primarily improvisational, some highlights included Wayland Harris as the fiery voice of reason, Bobby Hamilton as victim, and Steve Brown as the mediator who tries to keep things in order. Anthony Spadaccini did a good job as primary cameraman and, basically, lead actor -- but his character went through so many ranges of peculiar emotion and was far too 'peak and valley' for the situation.

Had they given us some more scenes with the group bonding, maybe given us a reason to totally believe the ending, and stripped away some of those superfluous scenes of repeats -- it would have been a better film. Alas, all of that said, I enjoyed it. It kept me interested -- it annoyed me at times, with the repeats, but it still kept me interested, and that's more than I can say for most films sent to me to review. So, on the whole, I recommend "Unstable" and suggest you check it out. It might do well on the film festival circuit, but some crucial cuts and additions would make it not just a good movie, but a great one. The story is there, the actors are there and the execution is there -- it just needs some fine tuning. "Unstable" is entertaining, it has a good message when you can see it and it is, for the most part, highly realistic. Kudos. 7/10.
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Chad #1: Chad - added 05/09/2007, 07:05 PM
Claymont, DE? Damn, this guy practically lives down the street from me.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 05/09/2007, 07:16 PM
Go give him a high-five.
Chad #3: Chad - added 05/09/2007, 07:33 PM
I was actually just shocked that something (seemingly) decent came out of this shithole state of mine.
Anthony Spadaccini #4: Anthony Spadaccini - added 05/10/2007, 08:30 AM
Indeed, we've probably seen each other in passing before, which wouldn't surprise me since Delaware is so small.

Thanks for the review! It's much appreciated!

:-)
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