Getting this year’s Frightfest shindig off to a downbeat, depressing start, Sean Brosnan’s My Father Die takes no prisoners.

That’s not to say it isn’t any good – at times, it really hits the right notes, but the film is such a gruelling, tortuous gut-punch of a movie that it’s hard to imagine anyone saying they ‘enjoyed’ it.

Set among some real trailer trash in the deep south, the film kicks off with young brothers Chester and Asher – Chester being the older and Asher treated as something of the village idiot – or swamp idiot if you will.

Anyhow, Chester decides he’s going to get jiggy with his father’s latest squeeze (with Asher watching) and – wouldn’t you know – daddy just happens to walk in.

And this is no ordinary daddy, with father Ivan (played with chilling menace by former boxer Gary Stretch) an uncouth, boorish, hellishly violent sort, who decides he’s going to beat Chester to death (and deafen Asher with a punch to the ear) for good measure.

Fast forward a number of years and Asher is now an adult, communicating via sign language and whiling away his days skinning alligators and hanging out with mom in a rundown shack.

But all that changes when Ivan is released early from prison (due to ‘overcrowding’ no less), casting Asher on a voyage of vengeance, a voyage that is unlikely to end well for anyone….

That’s pretty much it for the plot, with Brosnan keen to explore the family dynamic, with both Asher and Ivan pitched as being opposite ends of a very similar scale.

Aiding Asher in his quest is father’s former conquest  Nana (Candace Smith), who tempers Asher’s initial rage only to end up having to pitch in and help him when the walls begin to close in.

The film is real down-and-dirty stuff, but Brosnan clearly fancies himself as a bit above that, chucking in some freeze-frames of historical paintings from time to time for heavy-handed symbolism.

There’s also the whiff of misogyny hanging over the film, although as all the characters that pop up on screen are reprehensible in one way or other it sort of skates over the issue.

The performances are strong, from Anderson’s mute, man on a mission through to Stretch’s psychotic turn as Ivan – even if his character is so overtly evil as to come close to caricature at times.

Brosnan also doesn’t hold back on the violence and My Father Die is certainly not for the faint-hearted, with the climax running very close to becoming ridiculous in its bullet-spewing bloodshed.

Even so, My Father Die remains an effective piece of work and an interesting calling card for Brosnan – and let’s face it, anything was going to be better than last year’s opener Cherry Tree – wasn’t it?

 

 

Horror Channel Frightfest review: My Father Die
3.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.