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Corndog Man is a look at a bigoted boat salesman in South Carolina who is driven to near insanity by a mysterious caller. Why? The clear aim of this movie is show us why.
The troubles of racist Ace Barker (Noble Willingham) begin when he receives a phone call from a man claiming he wants to come down to the shop to buy a boat. He doesn't show up the first day and calls back—and before long, he makes it obvious that he doesn't plan to come down at all. Instead, he remarks on things he has noticed Ace doing—from what he eats for breakfast to the clothes he wears. At first, Ace considers the caller an annoyance, but soon, he tries to get the police in on stopping the stalker. When that doesn't work, he continues to just answer the phone—at work, on his houseboat, at pay phones. Sometimes, the mysterious voice is nice to him, sometimes cruel. The mysterious caller sends him gifts, so he uses the gifts. The mysterious caller claims to be his son and to know a dirty secret about his past, involving an African-American friend named Haywood, and even sends pictures proving it. Perhaps this is why Ace does not go back to the police, even when things get downright creepy. Just as creepy are the people Ace works with. They never talk—in fact, none of the other actors in the film ever talks, something the creators say in the commentary most people don't notice, although, I couldn't help but notice because I sat watching Ace speak only into a phone for an hour and twenty minutes. The other characters spend a lot of time eating corndogs while peering through a peephole at people sitting on the toilet in their shop, both women and men. Slowly but surely, the truth of why this mysterious caller is harassing Ace and driving him practically insane is brought to light.
Slowly but surely is definitely the best way to describe it. This movie has a very interesting and unique approach to telling a story, and you become incredibly intrigued by the relationship between Ace and the mysterious caller—and the secret that needs to be revealed. However, the phone calls become just as monotonous to you as they do to Ace, and you begin to question why he wouldn't just go back to the police when things become really bad. The horrible things we learn about Ace that expose all his bigoted hypocrisies still leave you wondering why he would put up with his dangerous stalker for as long as he does—especially since he barely seems to remember the atrocities. The film does manage to offer some tension, some unexpected humor, and an incredible acting job by lead Noble Willingham, but I think that a good portion of viewers may be letdown by the final outcome of the film. What movie could I best compare it to? I don't know. Let's say it's a cross between The Accused, The Crying Game and When A Stranger Calls, but that still doesn't exactly describe this curiosity.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1:85:1, letterboxed. The print is pristine. I detected basically no signs of dust or debris. Color saturation levels are perfect. Dark levels are rich. The image is crystal clear with excellent depth.
5.1 surround sound offers mostly traveling left/right separation, which is quite crisp and clear. The back speakers are used for occasional ambience, and not much more. There was really no bass response at all.
For starters, there are 8 chapter breaks to choose from. The extras breakdown like this:
PROMO TRAILER—a somewhat grainy and pixilated letterbox presentation of the original trailer.
FEATURETTE: EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY—this 10 minute featurette includes interviews with director/writer/producer/writer Andrew Shea and producer/writer/actor Jim Holmes who discuss the incredible performance by lead Noble Willingham.
COMMENTARY WITH ANDREW SHEA AND JIM HOLMES—the two joke, point out continuity discrepancies, chat about creating the film on a budget, and once again, rave on and on about the lead actor's performance. I noticed periodic cut out of the commentary track throughout the viewing.
Corndog Man is an intense character study that is quirky enough to keep viewers interested in the life of a bigoted man who is being harassed by a mysterious caller, even if the constant phone calls do become a bit ludicrous after a while. Lead Noble Willingham carries the entire movie, and it is this performance that makes the film most worth viewing, because the ending could easily not be payoff for the cost of all the phone calls the audience has to endure for almost an hour and a half.