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Florida Film Festival: Crimes Against Humanity

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Crimes Against Humanity


Here we are, halfway through the Florida Film Festival, and I'm willing to bet the farm that I won't see a worse movie this week than Crimes Against Humanity. I look back on my rather scathing review of Last I Heard and think I might have been a bit harsh, now that I have a basis for comparison. Last I Heard was certainly a bad film, but at least it had a semblance of a story, characterization, and narrative structure. Watching this movie I felt like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, eyelids peeled back and unable to escape the horror unfolding in front of me.

The plot (a term I use loosely and reluctantly) revolves around Lewis (Mike Lopez) who works as an assistant to the Dean of some unnamed university in Chicago. Lewis is working with a P.I. (Adam Paul) to investigate several professors who are sleeping with their students and are also possibly satanists, as indicated by their matching shark tooth necklaces. Seriously. Meanwhile, Lewis' neglected girlfriend Brownie (Lyra Hill) has an affair with a guy she meets when the ashes of their recently deceased pet rabbits get mixed up (I swear I'm not making this up) and is promptly struck by lightning and hit by a car. Brownie spends most of the movie in a hospital bed while Lewis pursues his vendetta against the suspect professors and has his own fling with the P.I.'s assistant Frenchie (Adebukola Bodunrin).

Sweet baby Jesus, where to begin? Let's start with the protagonist Lewis, who is the single most repugnant character I've seen in recent memory. Characters can be bad people, but there has to be reason and depth. Lewis is nothing more than a cipher; he's a mass of repulsive traits that don't remotely resemble a real person. None of the other characters are any better; whether or not it was a conscious choice to populate the story with beings seemingly from another planet is irrelevant because absolutely nothing works.

I don't know if these actors could be good in another film but here the entire cast is uniformly bad. Particularly ill-used is Brownie, who commits a transgression against her emotionally abusive boyfriend and is immediately struck by lightning. I find it interesting that a woman co-wrote the screenplay because Brownie's story has a rather ugly misogynistic tone. There is no through line to speak of, with scenes seemingly assembled at random and without resolution or purpose. Don't get me started on Brownie's random vision of the Earth Mother (Sue Klaus) who appears floating above Brownie's hospital bed to admonish her that things aren't so bad. I'd complain that this scene is tonally out of place in relation to the rest of the movie, but that would imply a consistent tone where there is none.

Permit me to borrow a line from the late, great Roger Ebert: I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated this movie. I tend to go easy on independent film because I know what a Herculean effort it is to get a movie made, but this movie offends me on every level as a critic and as a human being. Crimes Against Humanity is an accurate title.

There are lots of worthwhile movies playing this week at the Florida Film Festival. For info visit the official festival site. My other reviews can be found here.