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Super, The - Noose Hill Entertainment Print E-mail
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Written by Ray Casta   
Sunday, 16 January 2011

Directed by: Evan Makrogiannis, Brian Weaver
Written by: Evan Makrogiannis, Brian Weaver
Produced by: Alex Lugones
Edited by: Alex Lugones
Music by: Kevin McSweeney
Cast: Demetri Kallas, Lynn Lowry, Ron "Necro" Braunstein, Manoush, Ruby Larocca, Edgar Moye, Brandon Slagle
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 42 min

Studio: Noose Hill Entertainment
Official Website: The Super

Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver's "The Super" is a glorious return to the 42nd Street theaters of the late 1970's and 1980's.

As the film opens in Astoria Queens, New York, a young woman is walking home to her apartment complex on a dark, eerily quiet night.  She tries to open the front door, but a note is left on the building saying the front door is broken.  This forces her to enter the back of the apartment complex.  Wary of her surroundings, she walks through a seemingly empty corridor in the bowels of her building.  A hulking figure, dressed in all black and armed with a hammer, waits for her.  The figure attacks her and a struggle ensues.  Frightened for her life, the young woman tries to escape her attacker, running away.  She attempts to escape through a window, only to be abruptly grabbed by another cloaked figure.  The woman is grabbed by the figure, and she screams at the top of her lungs.  As the film freezes on her deathening expression of fear, there is a credit sequence that brings its viewers back to 1970's and 1980's horror cinema, with the grainy film stock and retro text.  From this moment on until its end credits, "The Super" stays faithful to its roots.

The film is a dark, somber character study of George Rossi (Demtri Kallas) who runs the creaky, dilapidated apartment building of the opening sequence.  He greets a young interracial couple, Andre (Edgar Moye) and Karen (Ruby La Rocca) who are moving in his tenement.  He sees them as potentially good tenants, as opposed to his regularly untrustworthy tenants who owe him money.  Such as Olga (Manoush), a Russian tenant who has owed him rent for over two months.  He is incessantly taken advantage of by the degenerates that reside in the apartment building, and his naturally affectionate wheelchair-bound wife, Maureen (Lynn Lowry) is quick to tell him.  She wants him to sell the building, so they can take their daughter, Helen (Logan De Sisto) and move upstate.  He explains how long the building has stayed with his family, and he'd be breaking tradition if he sells it.

As opposed to implying a needlessly convoluted story with unnecessary plot twists, "The Super" relies heavily on character development and socially relevant subtext.  With such a deceptively simple plot, the genius is that the filmmakers are effortlessly able to delve into the mind of a man who is unhinged and pushed to his extreme breaking point.  Furthermore, the film works as a magnificent birth child to its inspirations, like Martin Scorsese's similarly-themed masterpiece "Taxi Driver" and Abel Ferrara's cult classics.  While it may sound like a stretch, it is not a wild stretch to hold "The Super" in the same light as the aforementioned works.  This has every bit of their angst, societal decay, alienation, and flat out cruelty, while maintaining its own originality.  Gritty and raw, "The Super" plays as a distinguished update to the bleak, harrowing depictions of New York City that Scorsese and Ferrara captured in their heydays.

Naturally, the weight of the film's success falls predominantly on the gaunt shoulders of Demtri Kallas who leads the talented cast.  In the hands of a less committed actor, "The Super" would not have worked as well.  As a character study, it's blessed with the brilliant lead performance of a bold actor who is the sole focus of the camera throughout.  Kallas' George comes across as a kind, genial man who gives wonderful advice to his tenants, and loves his family deeply.  But under the surface, he is a creepy, dangerous person who is on the edge.  He is just waiting to be pushed off the cliff of total despair and madness.  You witness as he invades the home of his tenants, and occasionally murders those who he feels should pay.  You witness him generously offer a Christmas tree to his tenants even though they insist against it.  The conflicted nature of his characterization divides us as viewers.  You fear him, but you feel sorry for the guy.  This is a genuine testament of Kallas' character and performance, as he reminds us of Joe Spinell's key performance in "Maniac" mixed with the instability and desperation of Roman Polanski in "The Tenant."

Lesser filmmakers would have missed the mark here, and turned "The Super" into your average, run-of-the-mill independent schlocker.  There is a strong statement made by directors Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver, as they instil the essentials that are simply missing from horror cinema nowadays: Character and story.  As a definite plus, the filmmakers inject social commentary in their story of a disturbed antihero who is a Vietnam war veteran.  The symbolism is present throughout, and we sense the lingering effects of PTSD through the dialogue, which reveals the back-story.  This film makes for a fascinating study in race relations.  Tensions rise among the apartment complex, which is filled with a cast of colorful characters who range from Russian, black to white, etc.  This is a film that takes advantage of its cast of character actors.  Manoush's performance as Olga is wonderful.  She acts as George's partner in crime in the world of sadism, brutal murder and snuff filmmaking.  There is a lot of splendid chemistry between the two, filled with dark humor and shocks, and her back-story is defined through a creepy and nightmarish Andrey Iskanov-starring flashback!  Did I mention Necro plays a ruthless, corrupt bastard of a cop?

Technically, "The Super" is a well polished effort.  The visuals by Stephen Kilcullen characterizes New York City, and his location shots have a way of expressing the alienation of the main character.  Cinematography is reminiscent of "Taxi Driver", but it's never derivative.  The film has a style on its own, and the atmosphere brings forth a grimy, raw New York City realism we rarely see anymore in cinema.  Plus the "grindhouse" film stock, complete with marks and scratches, is a nice visual extra.  This film is very much like a gun with a hair trigger.  Once the pressure is applied, it goes off.  It surely wouldn't have hurt to snip off a few minutes of the run time, since the pacing comes close to slowing down far too much.  The movie is not perfect.  However, the gripes are relatively minor because it does too many things right.  As a grindhouse throwback and a psychological horror film, "The Super" is a solidly crafted work that aims to do more than the run-of-the-mill independent effort.  It's a grim, powerful story told with social commentary and true inner-city viciousness.

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Chris Mayo     |SAdministrator |2011-01-16 12:17:41
Looking forward to seeing this one for sure. Great review Ray!
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