Friday, June 29, 2012

Fun mystery marred by shaky script and acting

Dogs in Quicksand (1999)
Starring: Mike Trippiedi, Anne Shapland Kearns, Mina Willis, Susan Muirhead, Sue Trippiedi, John Tilford, Steven M. Keen, and Bill Yauch
Director: Mike Trippiedi
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

When Mitch's (Mike Trippiedi) slutty secretary Darla (Muirhead) is found murdered with Mitch's tie around her neck and a used condom with Ray's (Tilford) semen in the trash, the intertwined lives of a group of small-town friends and business associates come unraveled and dark, hidden evils are exposed.

"Dogs in Quicksand" is a fascinating movie. It starts out with four apparently unrelated story threads that eventually come together to form a complicated who-dunnit sex comedy murder mystery that, while plagued by clunky dialogue and even worse acting, holds your interest thanks to the quirky characters that parade through the story. Each and everyone of them is having some sort of affair with one or more of the others, except for Mitch, who ls faithful to his psychotically jealous wife (Kearns), and everyone had opportunity and motive to kill Darla.

The most charming part of this movie is that it almost feels like it could have been written by Agatha Christie if she had been born in this century and focused her stories on small-town America instead of small-town Great Britain. I found myself reminded of Christie at several points during the film. Of course, the twist toward the end is probably not quite one that she would have written, although she did come close a couple of times.

The biggest problem this movie has is the acting. Everything else is a little above average for this kind of low-budget, shot-on-video, direct-to-DVD sort of producton. The acting swings wildly from the competent performances from Mike Trippiedi, Willis (who does an excellent turn as a hooker with a heart, so long as you give her $200), and Keen (a dying lawyer and friend to Mitch); to the approriately hammy Kearns; through the flat what-we-expect-from-a-borderline-pro production of Sue Trippiedi and Yauch; to the god-awful, someone-forgot-to-tell-him-it's-a-movie-so-he-doesn't-have-to-play-to-the-backrows-in-the-theatre Tilford. Tilford is so bad that he almost ruins this movie by himself... not only is he shouting every line, but he's doing it with a lameness that would get him booed off the stage in the tiniest of community theatres.

The mix of good, bad, and mediocre acting gives a very uneven feel to this film, which otherwise is pretty consistent in its level of quality. If you enjoy films with quirky characters, who-dunnits, and mild sex comedies, you may get a kick out of "Dogs in Quicksand", despite it's rough spots. I know I did.

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered this review of my film. I'm glad you sort of liked it. It was my first feature and I have learned a lot since then. I actually went through the screen actors guild for my next film, Amber Rose, and it's a much better film. It's available at Amazon if you're interested. Thanks for the review and thank you for supporting low budget filmmakers. Us independents need the press any way we can get it.
    Mike Trippiedi