"I wonder how many people watched those towers burn and were pissed off that somebody beat them to it." – Jim (Carlos Puga), Threat
Bold words indeed and the culmination of the gripping opening sequence of writer/director Matt Pizzolo's visceral Threat. Like a raw blast of visceral anger, Threat explodes off the screen in a collage of grainy color, sharp black and white and manga-influenced animation – Threat is a riveting, although amateurish slice of life in post-9/11 New York City that has elicits comparisons to early Martin Scorsese, Abel Ferrara and Larry Clark's nihilistic masterpiece Kids. Pretty heady company and it's to Pizzolo's credit that when Threat works, it's more than worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those films.
While very much a film with a considerable chip on its shoulder, Threat is a simple story: Jim (Carlos Puga), a homeless punk who ekes out a living busking in Manhattan, holds a dim view of the world and its inhabitants while Fred (Keith "Wild Child" Middleton), a bright, forward-thinking artist works to change the world around him for the better. During one rather eventful night, the pair lays it all on the table, building towards a cataclysmic finale that feels like a deeply pissed-off scream into the abyss, a scream punctuated with a jarring coda.
Working from his thin but powerful screenplay he co-wrote with Katie Nisa, Pizzolo fashions a grungy, street-level view of modern life in New York City; aided by the low-budget, on-the-fly production that infuses considerable amounts of verite, Threat has the unerring feel of truth, an almost documentary-esque examination of what makes the next generation so very, very angry at the one preceding. Flawed but undeniably compelling, Threat grabs you by the throat and holds tight for 90 minutes. The DVD
Threat is offered up with a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer that, unfortunately, reveals the film's low-budget origins. Soft and occasionally murky, this is an image that's far from perfect - although the black and white sequences look much, much sharper than the color portions. While for some films that would be a drawback, the grainy, off-the-cuff nature of the transfer actually lends a little atmosphere to this grim drama. The Audio:
This is a flick you'll definitely need to crank a little – the voiceover and throbbing soundtrack tends to overwhelm dialogue, making certain passages less heard well than others. It's a slight drawback (as is the lack of English subtitles – some sequences, it's impossible to decipher just what's being said) but for the most part, Threat is heard clearly. The Extras:
In an innovative twist on the isolated score track, one of the bonus features included here – dubbed "Mobtracks" – strips away the film's dialogue, sound effects and score to let DJs Alec Empire and Enduser "spin" tracks in sync with the movie. Also on hand are the three minute, six second featurette "Threat: Behind The Scenes," three trailers and the NY-1 news story about Threat's Sundance screening as well as 11 deleted scenes from the "tour cut" of Threat, which includes alternate opening and closing sequences. Final Thoughts:
Threat is rough hewn, angry and memorable filmmaking – writer/director Matt Pizzolo's grim, gritty slice of life stumbles occasionally but feels enough like truth to keep you watching. Fans of nihilistic dramas such as Bad Lieutenant or Kids should check this indie offering out. Recommended.