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Bryan Loves You
I want to be very careful here. Lots of people poured their energy and good intentions into Bryan Loves You, including Tony Todd, George Wendt, Lloyd Kaufman, Brinke Stevens and Tiffany-freaking-Sheppis for crying out loud! But this is a hard movie to love. The purportedly true found-footage tale of an eerie cult that's taken over a small town in 1993 Arizona never sports an ounce of plausibility, lacks any tension, and lacks any performances that rise to the level of believable, and this mostly includes those marquee names. In a word, the movie is boring, and despite this extras-packed Blu-ray re-release, is a waste of your time.
Seth Landau is Jonathan, a therapist who becomes interested in rumors of an Arizona town overtaken by members of a cult devoted to the worship of the title mythical character. (Landau is also the writer and director of the movie, and dominates virtually every scene, a singularity of vision and oversight that might be a problem.) When Jonathan's friend falls victim to the cult, he decides to investigate, bringing along his handy camcorder as he infiltrates the town. The camcorder is key to crafting a worthwhile found-footage movie, and in the case of Bryan Loves You the fact that every location in the town is monitored by security cameras, and the cult members themselves are fond of camcorders, one is assured of a lot of coverage.
That coverage grants us insight into how the cult operates, literally controlling every aspect of civic operation, in its zeal to find and kill the 'evil doer' who slayed Bryan lo those many centuries ago, (I think) and finds that taking over a small town is the best base for operations, or maybe it's just that the evil doer hopes to retire in a warm climate.
Jonathan employs his therapeutic wiles as part of his investigation, with a spectacular 'get'; he lures George Wendt and his pet gift-shop figurine into a histrionic encounter session, in which Wendt reveals that its hard to break free from a cult, but it's easy to out-act everyone else in the movie. After that, some more bad stuff happens to Jonathan (and Landau) as he's captured by the cult and (Landau) must attempt to hold his own against both Sheppis and Kaufman, both of whom act circles around him and provide the last vestiges of entertainment this movie has to give.
Bryan Loves You has at its disposal at least a few trenchant points to make about religious indoctrination. A scene in which Jonathan is the only person not wearing a Bryan mask reveals plainly what it's like to be an outsider among a congregation, but the movie doesn't exactly run with that idea. It seems more than content to click off a few check-marks on its way to an ambiguous ending, while committing many errors along the way. Error one is having Tony Todd stagger into frame at the beginning of the movie, impersonating Williams Shatner and Castle as he haltingly warns you to avoid this movie because it's going to be too scary. Error two is allowing all other actors to drone most of their dialog in halting, monotone fashion (save for Wendt, Sheppis, and Kaufman). Error three is writing dialog like this tidbit about hidden cameras: "nobody will ever be able to notice these." Combining two sentences that someone might actually say: "nobody will ever notice these" and "nobody will be able to see these" into one throwaway that clangs like buckshot on tin. Error four is making your movie look boring as hell with poorly framed shots allowing acres of beige to dominate every slow-moving shot. If you can make it past those sins, you still have a movie that makes little sense, has none of the belivability a found-footage movie needs, lacks any tension, and is populated by nobody you're asked to care about. There's one shot that encapsulates what Bryan Loves You is all about. It's a medium shot, nearly silent, static, somewhat out of focus, a shot that literally contributes nothing to the movie, a shot of a shabby La-Z-Boy recliner. It goes on for over a minute. Skip It.
Bryan Loves You was shot on standard definition digital video, which has been up-scaled to HD for this Blu-ray release. Since the source obviously wasn't packed with pixels, this is not the sharpest set of imagery, but it appears to have been re-mastered well, so understanding the source, I don't have any complaints about how it looks in this form.
2.0 Stereo Audio presents dialog as cleanly and clearly as possible, though much of it would seem to be room sound, with the attendant reverb and other low-fidelity issues. The musical soundtrack fares better due to its source.
MVD really layers on the extras, which for this reviewer felt like adding insult to injury. You get Two Commentary Tracks one is from 2008, with Landau and numerous cast and crew. It's a jokey, congratulatory track that often veers into discussion about the movie before going completely off the rails in what I would term an ill-advised way. The other track is from 2022, finding Landau more willing to talk about the actual production of the movie. He holds it, and his work in it, in high regard. You also get English Subtitles and Four Lengthy Video-Conference-Style Interviews. George Wendt gets 45 minutes to talk with Landau, who has lots to say about himself as well as getting information from Wendt. Tiffany Sheppis gets 50 minutes, Daniel Roebuck a whole hour, and Brinke Stevens a half-hour, for about 3-hours-worth of interviews!
Bryan Loves You, a found footage film from 2008, about an Arizona town taken over by cultists in the early 1990s, had potential to be creepy and trenchant. Unfortunately those things weren't realized. Star-power cameos range from good to bizarre, while the remainder of performances, (including director Landau's - the bulk of the movie) land with a thud. Neither scary nor engaging, Bryan Loves You is the kind of love I can do without. Skip It.