AFF 2015: “The Bad Guys”: a review

Warning: few spoilers ahead.

Usually when you go home to a reunion with childhood friends, you talk about the good old times and what you’re up to nowadays. No one expects to find out that one of their old friends has made a movie about them. This is exactly what “The Bad Guys” delivers.

Brought to you by Romark Entertainment, Resolute Productions and Dark Factory Entertainment, indie drama “The Bad Guys,” directed and co-written by Carlos Rincones, held its world premiere at Austin Film Festival last weekend at the Rollins Theatre at the Long Center for Performing Arts. The cast includes Erik Stocklin (“Stalker”), Glen Powell (“Scream Queens”), Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (“Grimm”), Keith Nobbs (“Public Morals”), Paul Iacono (“The Hard Times of RJ Berger”), and Mekenna Melvin (“Chuck”). Rincones co-wrote the screenplay with Rock Shaink and Alena Smith.

Review by ChinLin Pan

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys
Erik Stocklin and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe star in “The Bad Guys” as brothers Noah and Fink. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys

Budding filmmaker Noah (Erik Stocklin) and his actor friend Paul (Paul Iacono) go to his childhood home where his brother Fink (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) resides. The guys plan to reunite with their childhood friends Whit (Glen Powell), Annie (Mekenna Melvin), and Jesse (Keith Nobbs).

Over the weekend, the now-adult friends reminisce about the past and talk about their problems with the present. The friends have no clue that Noah has made a movie (starring Paul, by the way) about their shared childhood trauma involving Annie’s in-and-out-of-rehab brother Ash.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys
Keith Nobbs and Paul Iacono star as Jesse and Paul in “The Bad Guys.” Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys

While Noah is the main protagonist who deals with inner demons, and Erik Stocklin does an excellent job portraying a man who dreads the truth, I felt that Glen Powell, Keith Nobbs, and Paul Iacono are the ones who truly shine in the film. I loved the funny scenes where Nobbs and Iacono’s characters are getting to know each other in the woods (who knew buying drugs could get so awkward?). Also, Powell portrays genuine, raw emotion in a scene as his character Whit opens up about losing a friend in Iraq: “Things are different when you’re dead; I lost my friend so I became strong.”

Filmed in New York’s beautiful snow and woods, I enjoyed the setting. It’s calm, intimate, and gives off a “welcome home” warmth (despite the cold weather). Also, the idea for the friends to build a sweat lodge together is fantastic; the scenes where they put their pettiness aside and work together are my favorite.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys
Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/WeAreTheBadGuys

While I love the concept of re-visiting the past and opening up old wounds, the pacing of the storyline felt a little slow. Conversations wandered sometimes, and I kept waiting to see if Ash would actually make an appearance. Because Ash was such an integral part of the story, I kept waiting for him to finally show up and join the friends at the reunion and we, the audience, would see it. Instead, we get a brief glimpse of Ash at the very end of the film. I felt as if I didn’t get enough closure as a result. As well, I would have loved to have seen Ash’s response to Noah’s film.

Criticism aside, overall, the film really hits it home with the message that you can’t escape the past–you need to deal with it and move on.


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