Title: Buzz Kill
Director: Steven Kampmann (‘Stealing Home’)
Starring: Daniel Raymont (TV’s ‘The Naked Brothers Band,’ ‘Smash’), Krysten Ritter (TV’s ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’) and Darrell Hammond
People sometimes take drastic measure when trying to achieve their dreams, and surprisingly, through twists of fate, the acts can actually pay off. The new independent comedy ‘Buzz Kill,’ directed and co-written by actor Steven Kampmann, amusingly shows the extreme measure people take to carry out their professional goals. While those around down-on-his-luck Ray Wyatt view him as being immature and refusing to grow up, Ray thinks of himself as staying true to his dreams.
‘Buzz Kill’ follows Ray (played by Daniel Raymont), a once promising screenwriter who refuses to “sell out” and get an advertising job, to the dismay of his wife Sara (portrayed by Reiko Aylesworth). Just when he’s about to end his life, Ray receives a call from an enthusiastic L.A. producer, who wants to meet with him to discuss his new script, ‘Great Shame.’ With little money, Ray loads up his beat-up car, and plans on driving cross-country from New Jersey to Hollywood.
Ray allows a young waitress from a local diner, Nicole (played by Krysten Ritter), who promises to pay for half of the trip. But once she becomes bored with Ray, she abandons him, leaving him to finish his road trip alone. He then encounters the Karaoke Killer (portrayed by Darrell Hammond), who steals his car and the only copy of his script with the new ending. Ray follows the killer to get his belongings back, but is hesitant to turn him into police, as he wants to know what he thinks about the new ending.
Kampmann made the right decision in hiring Raymont to play Ray. The actor wasn’t afraid to portray his character as taking a naive, but daring, approach to life. Ray is proud of who he is, and determined to achieve his goal of being a screenwriter, he doesn’t feel the need to change his lifestyle. While he loves Sara, and doesn’t want to end their marriage, he courageously takes the trip to L.A. to reach his goal and get the job that will truly make him happy.
Due to Raymont’s somewhat simple outlook on life, and being unsure how to forcibly take charge of situations, he humorously interacts with those around him. As an experienced impressionist, Raymont amusingly portray Ray’s British accent and defensively protects his mother’s heritage, against Granger (played by Larry Hankin), the landlord of the apartment he moves into before he travels to L.A. Ray wants Granger to fix the apartment, such as adding an air conditioner and remove the smell, but is deterred by the landlord’s continuous ridicule of his accent and lifestyle.
One of the most memorable relationships Ray develops in ‘Buzz Kill’ is the one he builds with the Karaoke Killer. Ray knows that he should morally and legally call the police as soon as he realizes that it was the killer who stole his script and car. However, he feels so crushed by almost no one else wanting to read his screenplay, and find out what the new ending entails, that he forms a bond with the killer. Ray is happy to know that someone is interested in his work, even if it is a serial killer, and subconsciously protected him from the police because of it.
While ‘Buzz Kill’ accurately reflects people’s need for praise and approval, and desire to do whatever it takes to obtain their goals and dreams, Kampmann unfortunately included some cliches about men and their relationships. For example, Ray willingly allows Nicole to travel with him to L.A., ahe said she would pay for half of the trip. Despite barely knowing anything about her, and wanting to save his marriage to Sara, Ray still allows Nicole to travel with him. Ray is intrigued by Nicole’s initial interest in him and his life, but after a few days together, is genuinely surprised at how selfish she truly is. He doesn’t know how to react when he realizes she was just using him for a free ride.
Independent films are sometimes the most reflective of what’s truly happening in American society. Their limited budgets can force directors to forgo massive stunts and instead focus on the problems people are currently facing. Through Ray in ‘Buzz Kill,’ Kampmann perfectly proved that people can be proud of who they are, and stick to achieving their goals and dreams. While Raymont was the perfect choice to portray the naive, but determined, Ray, Kampmann unfortunately provided him with cliched relationships and approaches to dealing with his problems.
Written by: Karen Benardello