SHOW YOURSELF ** USA 2016 Dir: Billy Ray Brewton. 79 mins
In writer-director Brewton’s feature, actor Ben Heathcoat, preparing for a remake of LA STRADA (!) and pressured by his agent to just make a DIE HARD-type picture, takes refuge at a cabin in the woods to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased childhood friend.
Nostalgically revisiting old home movies in a bid to “feel something”, he cannot detach himself from the question of why his friend committed suicide and begins to feel an ominous presence following him around. Largely a one-man show in which Heathcoat communicates via Skype and Face Time with his nearest and dearest, this follows the 21st century horror trend for narrative structure built around electronic communication, while crafting eerie bits of business involving shadows on a tent and a creepy figure in a lake. Despite having the appearance and tropes of a ghost story, however, it is really a character-driven drama about one man’s struggle with grief. Unfortunately, Heathcoat’s unlikeable character creates a vacuum where our emotional engagement should be, and, as a result, it’s a plodding, uninvolving piece that, brief genre frissons aside, becomes quite dull. You’d be rooting for the ghost…if there actually was one.
Review by Steven West