Fatal Future (2018)

This one surprised me.

Perhaps the most wildly overdone subgenre out there in Indie SF these days is the deliberately bad film.

As I’ve noted before, when one watches a genuinely inspired bad movie, we are seeing a film that came by its badness honestly.  The people who made it were trying to make a good film, it’s just that, for one reason or another they just couldn’t manage it.

The situation gets even worse when we get to those films that parody B-movies, where a few badly written lines and a bit of stiff dialogue can suddenly turn into a nearly unwatchable mish-mash of deliberately terrible dialogue.

A few directors – like Christopher Mihm have excelled at this subgenre, but generally because of their love and respect for the films they are referencing.

And most of the films made by people trying to make their own Ed Wood movies are just plain terrible.

So a film which is an homage to someone who is often seen as a modern day Ed Wood?  Well, you’ll have to excuse me if I expect the results to start somewhere near dire and get worse from there, like Plan 9  or The Atomic Zombie Space Creeps.

Neil Breen is a Las Vegas based “auteur” who wrote, directed and starred in four bad movies that have developed a bit of a cult following.  I haven’t seen any of his work, but he generally cast himself as the guy who is the best at what he does in the world and has god-like powers of some sort.

Here, that character is MC Dalton, the greatest hacker in the world and a top-flight cyber commando, who can dispose of an enemy with his bare hands or by pressing a few buttons on his cell phone.  And, naturally, we have to have a totally unnecessary  fight scene at the beginning of the film just to show him doing just that.

Dalton is played by the film’s co-director, Michael Keene, in a marvelously dead-pan performance, which gives his often silly dialogue a mock weight and gravitas.  This is what really makes this film work, that there is a considerable amount of actual comic and acting talent at work here:  it isn’t enough to recite the pompous-sounding dialogue in a film like this, it has to be given that extra something that makes the character more than just a one-note joke.

Keene and Sean Doyle wrote, directed and did virtually everything else in the film under the joint pseudonym “Mitch Kean.”  I guess it takes two talented individuals to make an entertaining take-off of one singularly bad triple-threat filmmaker.  There’s enough story here to keep this one interesting, some very funny “futuristic” touches (like the business executives wearing their dress shirts with the collar  wide open and their ties knotted loosely around their bare necks!), a suspiciously happy ending, and the laziest fictional version of cyberspace I have ever seen.

My favorite moment comes during that rosy happy ending, when Dalton drives past something that gives us a different perspective on his freeing the Internet (or whatever it is called here).

And a good laugh as well.

Now obviously, on a dead-pan parody like this, your comedic mileage may vary.  The more humor-challenged out there might not even recognize that this entire production is meant to be a joke.  Nor do I think that everyone in the cast is as good as Michael Keene.  But it definitely has its charms.  Not to mention a few pretty good moments,  one or maybe even two interesting ideas, a reasonably tight plot, and it even generates a certain sympathy for its hero.

It may not be great cinema, but it does offer a bit of light-hearted fun.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

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