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Crazy Bitches Movie Review

Title: Crazy Bitches

Director: Jane Clark

Starring: Samantha Colburn, Cathy DeBuono, Andy Gala, Liz McGeever, Victoria Profeta, Guinevere Turner, Nayo Wallace, Mary Jane Wells

Can a movie be a tonal train wreck if its narrative never really leaves the station? And is there a baseline qualitative bar a project has to clear in order to qualify as either feminine empowerment or subversion? These and other ancillary questions nag at a viewer during “Crazy Bitches,” written and directed by Jane Clark. After all, a title like that and a narrative slug-line that promises victims “killed by their own vanity” would seemingly augur some type of pleasantly wink- and nudge-filled genre romp. Alas, this low-budget horror-dark comedy is a misfire, through and through.

A debut at the Frameline Film Festival, “Crazy Bitches” focuses on seven former sorority sisters and their gay best friend, who decide for some mystifying reason — even though they seem to largely hate each other — to gather for a weekend of rest and relaxation on a remote ranch. Taylor (Samantha Colburn), Cassie (Cathy DeBuono), Minnie (Liz McGeever), Belinda (Guinevere Turner), Dorri (Nayo Wallace) and Princess (Mary Jane Wells) all settle in, and BJ (Andy Gala) fills them in on the hazy details of some murder that’s (allegedly) happened on the property. The late arriver is Alice (Victoria Profeta), whose relationship with husband Eddie (David Fumero) is on the rocks. There are, of course, harbored secrets that slowly start leaking out (Dorri is guarding news of the relapse of a potentially terminal health condition, and there’s all sorts of intra-party infidelity gumming up the narrative works), as well as a nearby ranch-hand, Gareth (Blake Berris) who seems like a demented dinner theater improv creation of Paul Rudd. Then, per genre dictates, people start dying.

Almost from the outset, “Crazy Bitches” is full of incongruous touches. Its lilting indie rock soundtrack and odd editorial techniques (heavy on the scene fades) don’t match or abet the pitch of its performances, which lean toward the histrionic or arch. Another, more direct way of saying this is that “Crazy Bitches” is bad, but in unusual ways. It’s the type of movie where an awkwardly staged, phony amorous misunderstanding begets a physical fight that is then immediately de-escalated by a weepy personal confession. Any sense of more fully formed derision a viewer might have is frequently undercut by wide-eyed confusion, since none of the characters really behave in recognizably human ways.

Some of the movie’s dialogue is delightfully campy (“She was freaking out, and that’s what you do to people who are freaking out — you slap the shit out of them!” and “If we pool our resources when we get back home then I’m sure we can find you a job — until then, I say we drink!”), but Clark also seems to want to sketch out motivations for personality traits (as embodied by bits like a confession from Taylor about her tragic past) that don’t serve the story, and bring any sense of careening mayhem the movie might otherwise enjoy to a screeching halt. DeBuono at least has the slightest seeds of an interesting character — a lesbian seemingly who seems drawn to “turning” presumably straight women, her friends naturally included — but the script has neither the time nor inclination to treat this in a compelling way.

“Crazy Bitches” is, for the most part, the type of failure you want to help with constructive criticism. The story is uninspired and Clark’s sense of space and staging are both terrible (at one point near its climax, a character simply pausing for 20 seconds in the wilderness leads to her being separated and irredeemably lost from the rest of the group), but one presumes that she and the rest of her colleagues surmounted any number of considerable obstacles in financing and pulling off this production. So good for them. It’s just a shame this crazy DIY effort doesn’t amount to more.

NOTE: “Crazy Bitches” is now available on VOD.

Technical: C-

Acting: C-

Story: D

Overall: D

Written by: Brent Simon

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A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International and Magill's Cinema Annual, and film editor of H Magazine. He cannot abide a world without U2 and pizza.

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