We return from our annual foray into the woods (I got lost for a week) and check out the wild environment that is life once the 10-year high school class reunion has passed in this week’s flick, Peggy.
Directed by Michigan-based filmmaker Brandon Guiles and produced by his Gallows Film Productions, it was one of the hundred or so features that our group of stalwart Mutant judges checked out as part of the World Drive-In Movie Festival over the spring and summer. Brandon has this flick streaming on Amazon right now and if you’re a fan of Heathers or if you just hated high school, this flick might be up your alley.
The main and titular character is Peggy (Tiffani Van Dorn), who had a terrible time in school because she didn’t conform to the standards set by the popular prom queen, jocks, etc. Rather than move away though, she still hangs out at home with her dad and has spent the years since closing her secondary school career bartending and murdering folks, not necessarily in that order. Basically, she’s got attitude, a long memory and any annoyance will do when it comes to putting people out of their misery and moving em on to their next life. Woe to those who cross her path or think they might have a shot at her.
Best Way to Store Abducted Former Band Geeks: Bound and gagged in the closet.
Best Staging: When Peggy kills two people in the woods and makes it look like a murder-suicide.
Best Vengeance for Taking the Last Shopping Cart and Getting Bumped Into: Peggy follows this rude woman into a restroom and gives her a chin piercing.
Best Vengeance for Complaining About Dog Doo: Peggy infiltrates her neighbor’s house because he was whining to the law about their dog answering the call of nature over the property line.
Best Vengeance for Skeeze-like Behavior and Those Associated With It: Peggy offs all the patrons at the bar she works at by serving them a cocktail with a drain cleaner chaser (complete with requisite white foam spewage).
Best Example of a Clueless Law Enforcement Official: Dustin (Brandon Guiles himself) who took one for the team and saddled himself with a lot – and I mean a lot — of expository scenes.
The one really, really big flaw of Peggy (the flick, not the character) is that it falls into that well-known indy movie trap that happens in small-budget flicks.
Please pardon me as I climb the soapbox…
I understand that there are limitations in time and resources to all filmmakers whether the budget is $500 or $500 million. But, again, the point of a motion picture is for an audience to watch it. It’s a visual medium, so movie makers need to remember that they have the option of showing rather than telling. And when doing a scene when there’s a lot of talking, there has to be rhythm and nuance and advancement. Otherwise it’s just two folks yakking about something and people can go to the waiting room of their local BMV for that, plus they get the added bonus of new and interesting smells.
So Peggy relied just a bit too much on dialogue to advance the story. Maybe it could have started with a scene chronicling a bullying incident a la Carrie or Prom Night that teed Peggy off to go gonzo and psycho, the audience has to listen to Dustin talking for about five minutes to another cop about how both he and Peggy were tormented by Bridezilla-in-waiting Rachel (Katie Ososki) when they were at school.
Still, you have a serial killer slaughtering folks, an interesting conclusion, a super professional credits sequence, a peppy theme song and a couple decent effects done for not a lot of money. Mr. Guiles and Co. will learn and improve with the next foray I’m sure, and Peggy could return for more victims farther down the turnpike hopefully with a lot more style and panache and less static camera work and talk.