Brushes with failure, death and other traumas can be permanently affecting. What hits us at a young age can carry through for the remainder of our lives, leading to a dark path if not dealt with properly. Eric Widing’s latest film PRIMORDIAL delves into what happens when that damage isn’t handled well, and the mental chaos that follows.
Starring Marylee Osborne (BABYSITTER MASSACRE, AWKWARD THANKSGIVING) as Valerie Graves, a woman unhappy with her lot in mid-twenties life. Barely making ends meet by picking up odd jobs, Valerie battles alcoholism and horrendously violent nightmares while thinking how things would have been different had she pursued her schooling and become a nurse, her childhood dream. All this turmoil leads Valerie to be extremely short tempered and masking her true emotions with sarcasm and vitriol. Anchored by her only true friendship with Tina (Erin R. Ryan, CALAMITY JANE’S REVENGE, EASTER CASKET), Valerie seems to be at her best when she’s caring for her extremely depressed friend.
After being laid off from her only steady employer, a family that she’s grown close to, Valerie finds herself flung back into the abyss. An awkward meeting at a party however turns up a possible job lead. The legitimate job works out great for her, but turns out to be just a cover for the business’s true mission: being muscle for a loan shark (Josh Miller, APPLE CART, SCUM). Seeing potential in Valerie’s more violent tendencies, she’s taken under the wing of Tayshawn (Adam Clevenger (ALONE IN THE GHOST HOUSE) and Tony (Titus Wolverton, SCAREWAVES). Tayshawn is your typical thug from the streets with a penchant for geekiness (rocking a ST:TNG Klingon emblem shirt), while Tony is the scarier of the two. Cold, calculating, and intelligent, Valerie is quickly drawn to the ways of Tony, as their jobs proceed to get bloodier and bloodier.
PRIMORDIAL is a psychological crime drama in the vein of TAXI DRIVER and LAUGH KILLER LAUGH. While not on the same level as those films, it shows promise from almost all involved. Dark, violent and brooding, the film explores the darker recesses of an alcoholic depression, with added horror elements a la JACOB’S LADDER. Utilizing a heavy metal soundtrack and quick edits, the audience is left to wonder what is a nightmarish hallucination, and what’s real for our characters.
Shot on a rather low budget, PRIMORDIAL does its best to ensure that despite meager money behind it, you are engaged for the full two hour running time. Working with Henrique Couto and crew, Widing has a lot of experience of getting a lot on a dime and short time. And being able to tap Couto for the sound design, we get a lush sounding film with a brutal metal tone, elevating the heaviness of the scenes.
Some of the performances are clunky and heavy handed, but had the cast and crew had the extra time available, I’m sure they would have been able to hone them down. But for the main characters, we get a conversational tone throughout adding to the believability. There are a few plot pieces that seem disjointed, but they don’t totally derail the progress of the film. And given that the film is an amalgamation of several script ideas of Widing’s, it makes all the more sense.
This film handles some deep topics, and done so in ways that may be too brutal for many viewers. But it definitely shows strong promise for the Dayton, Ohio area for low budget films. From the works of Couto, Widing and Dustin Wayde Mills, we are getting a large output of films with an even larger variety of genres. If you haven’t been keeping an eye on this region’s output, for a genre lover, it is high time to do so.