It’s been 5 years since director Richard Bates Jr released Suburban Gothic, and his latest feature, Tone-Deaf harnesses a similar blend of wit and horror from its lead actors that has become closely associated with this auteur. Those that enjoyed Bates Jr’s approach to the celluloid form will appreciate the inclusion of this movie in this years’ Sydney Underground Film Festival.
Tone-Deaf offers a topical insight into the gulf that divides the Baby Boomer generation and the Millennials. Robert Patrick is magnificent as disgruntled home-owner, Harvey with an axe to grind with the current generations’ attitude or neglect towards all that his generation has built or established.
On the other side of the divide is Olive, who is going through her own crisis after losing her job and splitting from her dead-beat boyfriend. At first Amanda Crew’s portrayal of the struggling Millennial comes across as sipid, and I found it hard to engage with her, but once she holes up at Harvey’s Airbnb, she soon starts to shed some of her harsh exterior and we soon warm to her. Which is a good thing too, because once Harvey goes nuts, we need to champion for someone in the narrative.
Speaking of Harvey, when we’re first introduced to him, I found it a little jarring too as we’re greeted to the first of many soliloquies as he addresses the audience, but at least it doesn’t go to Clint Eastwood Gran Turino grumbles. In fact, Patrick’s performance is more on the lighter-side of darkness as he delves into the melancholy, which allows us to warm to Harvey despite his obvious affliction.
As the movie plays out, we’re treated to a see-saw of oppositions that continually ebbs and flows without the slightest hint about who will come out on top. The humour peppers along and provides reprieve from what could be construed as a bleak outlook but Bates Jr clearly has fun ridiculing the obvious disconnect between the generation gap.
Whilst the horror is slight, this home invasion thriller manages to entertain and delight through the ensuing conflict.
- Saul Muerte