By KEVIN HOOVER
Directed by Kirby Voss
Written by Felicia Stallard
Starring Jared Bankens, William McGovern, Sophie Marie White
Distributed by Cinema Epoch
Taken at face value, WE ALL THINK WE’RE SPECIAL isn’t the type of film one would expect to find an audience among the horror faithful. A cautionary tale about the push-and-pull between two friends set against a harrowing discussion of alcoholism screams PSA more than anything else. However, a true-to-life depiction of an addict stepping through detox and relapse is horrific in its delivery, and, for the viewer willing to accept a few misgivings, is the kind of realistic horror that isn’t easily forgotten.
WE ALL THINK WE’RE SPECIAL opens with a disclaimer, and justifiably so. Ed (William McGovern) is reeling after breaking up with his boyfriend and opts to self-medicate in a way common to the lovelorn – a night of binge drinking, spurred on by best friend Charlie (Jared Bankens). As dawn breaks and heads ache, Ed’s proclamation of never drinking again goes unshared by Charlie. As it turns out, Charlie’s affinity for the bottle has plagued nearly his entire life, through the revelation that imbibing entered the picture at an early age. When realtor Duncan (Sophie Marie White) arrives to inform Charlie that his recently deceased mother has willed her estate to Alcoholic Anonymous, Charlie isn’t so willing to step away from what he feels is rightfully his. Duncan further imparts to Ed that his decision to turn a blind eye to Charlie’s problem is only enabling a horrendous situation, an admonition Ed takes to heart. To save his friend, he stages an intervention, disposes of all the booze in the house, and challenges Charlie to spend a week on the wagon.
The film’s finest qualities lie in its actor’s renditions of their respective roles. McGovern comes across as a genuinely concerned pal with freshly opened eyes. He’s no pushover, though, and his unwillingness to kowtow to Charlie’s incessant pleas for liquor feel natural and unrehearsed. He’s never held an intervention before, and his attempts at doing what he believes is right are best practices that he’s forthcoming about having Googled. Charlie, with his manic fits and ticks, carries out mannerisms you’d expect from someone detoxing, even if having never witnessed such an experience. He’s sweaty, agitated, impulsive, conniving, and, most disturbing of all, willing to sacrifice a lifelong friendship to get the object of his desire.
There are a few creative choices that feel awkwardly tacked on in an attempt to explain character motivations. Charlie ferociously attacks Ed over his religious values and sexual preferences with such a frequency that it feels overkill. Seeing as how neither of these traits are exceedingly displayed by Ed, it seems an odd choice to have them be such a point of contention. While it can be argued that these behaviors are typical of an addict rejecting attempts for assistance, herein they feel unnecessary, as does an attempt at a surprise ending. It may elicit surprise from the non-horror sect, but Rue Morgue readers will shrug it off. Too many ingredients may not completely ruin the recipe that is WE ALL THINK WE’RE SPECIAL, but they most assuredly help to spoil the batter.
Fear is as natural an emotion as any other, and WE ALL THINK WE’RE SPECIAL pulls off a gem that plays to its dramatic core with a touch of horror film window dressing. McGovern and Banken’s character portrayal is spot on and should be enough to reel in the casual viewer. However, using the real-life distress of addiction to drive the vehicle creates a film that genre fans should be able to enjoy as well, even with a few potholes along the way.
WE ALL THINK WE’RE SPECIAL is available for purchase or rent on June 15th.