While seemingly at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, horror and comedy can make for extremely comfortable bedfellows. Laughter and terror are two of the most visceral responses a filmmaker can hope to elicit from an audience and, when traversed correctly, the ground between them can prove dramatically fertile.
Awards season is traditionally the time for filmmakers to get their teeth into the meaty issues that they hope will draw the admiring gaze of audiences and voting committees alike. Concussion follows the established playbook to such a degree that it turns an incendiary story – an exposé that struck at the heart of America’s national sport, first detailed in GQ article ‘Game Brain’ by Jeanne Marie Laskas – into something of a damp squib.
The biggest mystery surrounding supernatural drama Backtrack is just what drew the accomplished, chameleon-like Adrien Brody to its leading role. While the actor’s natural intensity is never quite dulled by the pat, predictable story, his character’s insipid search for understanding and meaning in a narrative devoid of either is an emotional and dramatic slog.