Addiction (2007)

Year - 2007

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

Many of us live with an addiction to something. Some of us are addicted to drugs. Some of us are addicted to alcohol. Some of us are addicted to sex. Some of us are addicted to watching movies and reviewing them for no other reason but to gain attention in our lives.

Anyway, Addiction, being released by Brain Damage films in early 2008, takes the life of an addict to the next level: murder. Yes, what if we’ve murdered someone and couldn’t go on with our lives without killing again? And again. And again. Could we be saved? Or are we lost forever?

Bobby (Frank Franconeri) has the life most of us dream of. His wife Lisa (Mim Granahan) adores him. He’s a top executive at an accounting firm. His secretary wants to bang him. Good ol’ Bob’s living the good life. That is until he’s about to be mugged by a homeless man (Kyswalis) with a knife. Bob, defending himself, turns the tables on the homeless man and knifes him instead. The act of murder sickens Bob at first, but as times goes on, he can’t sleep or go through his day without thinking about that one act. It makes him smile. It excites him. It makes him want more blood on his hands. In other words, it gives him power and the feeling of a God. Bob is addicted to murder.

Bob murders several other homeless people to get his fix, but the addiction turns his life upside-down. He can’t sleep. He can’t get aroused by his wife unless he fantasizes about murdering someone first. His drug-addicted cousin Frankie (Joshua Nelson) keeps bugging him at work for cash. He gets fired for not doing his reports. Nothing goes his way anymore. All he cares about is killing more people. Can he get himself together? Or is he too far deep into the world of serial killing?

Addiction is a good film about how one accidentally becomes involved in the world of murder and doesn’t want to leave it, even knowing it’s not right. Just like with a drug addict or an alcoholic, we watch the character of Bobby go from happy, loving, hard-working man to a depressed, hateful, obsessed monster. And that is the true horror - how one simple act of self-defense can lead to a second chance at life that’s nothing more than Hell on Earth.

Bobby’s story coincides with his cousin Frankie’s addiction with drugs. Whenever the two interact, you can tell how disgusted Bobby is of Frankie’s life. Even when Bobby is on a killing spree, that disgust still lingers whenever he’s around Bobby. Bobby can’t see (or doesn’t want to see) that his addiction is practically the same as Frankie’s. It’s an interesting dynamic by director James Tucker and screenwriter/star Joshua Nelson. They’re both one and the same, yet they can’t seem to wrap around understanding each other’s lives.

It’s also interesting to watch how their addictions affect their lives similarly. Bobby can’t deal with his wife once he’s deep in his habit, pushing her away and wanting nothing to do with her to the point where she decides to leave him. Frankie has a junkie girlfriend named Jenny (Brenda Hattingh) who he can’t deal with and pushes her away because he wants all the drugs to himself. The only time he deals with Jenny is to have her screw their drug dealer (Jaime Velez) to buy him off for more drugs (which doesn’t work by the way). It’s a sad look at how two people can have what others want (like money and love), yet would trade it all just to get a hit. It is reality and that makes you feel uncomfortable. Could that happen to me? Would I be stuck in a world I didn’t want a part of but too weak to get away from? The thoughts are not pleasant.

Director James Tucker uses all of his resources (which isn’t much really - it’s a very low budget film) to create a film that’s well worth watching. He has great pacing and he uses stylistic elements like POV shots, shaky cam whenever someone runs or to create a level of disorientation for the viewer that’s matched by the Bobby character, and a nice use of establishing shots and close-ups when they’re absolutely necessary. Tucker also cuts away from the murder scenes. We never see Bobby’s knife enter his victim’s skin or actually see the action. Sure there’s some blood, but it’s not a gorefest. If you’re looking for blood gushing and guts pouring out of wounds, this is not your film. It probably wasn’t done due to budget constraints but I appreciated the lack of gore.

The acting was well done in Addiction. Frank Franconeri was very good as the troubled Bobby. Watching him go from a normal husband to a murdering junkie was very believable due to Franconeri’s performance. He had great emoting scenes, great interactions with all of his co-stars, and he captivated me from beginning to end. I actually felt bad for him because he didn’t want to be a killer. He just sort of fell into it. Franconeri’s co-stars also did well. Mim Granahan as Bobby’s wife Lisa did fine here. She really didn’t do much but ask for cigarettes, sleep, and give Bobby oral sex. But she did it well! She played the typical wife. Nothing more, nothing less. Joshua Nelson and Brenda Hattingh were really effective as Bobby’s cousin Frankie and his girlfriend Jenny. I’m not sure if they’ve been in this position before or it was just great acting, but they played junkies extremely well. Were there drugs really on this shoot? I was very convinced and it seemed very real. I was impressed especially by Hattingh’s performance during the scene where she calls her family. Totally heartbreaking as her family wants nothing to do with her because of her drug abuse. These were really effective performances. I was kind of surprised.

My only problem with the film is that the Frankie and Jenny storyline doesn’t have a resolution. There’s a set-up where Frankie owes his drug dealer money and pimps out Jenny as a way to pay off his debt. When that doesn’t work, the drug dealer and his buddy vow to kill Frankie and Jenny. Yet, we don’t see what happens after that. Did they get killed? Were they bluffing? It’s pretty bad screenwriting when you set up a storyline for a long time and not give it its rightful conclusion. Plus the very end was also kind of ambiguous with Bobby. I won’t spoil it but it might take you two watches to really understand what happened.

I was surprised by Addiction. I wasn’t really expecting much out of this film but I happened to enjoy it. I think it’s an independent film worth checking out. Now if only I can stop my Guitar Hero addiction…

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