You Shouldn’t Pick On Evil! “All American Bully” review!

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Three high school friends live in an online gaming and comic book world making them easy targets for sinister bullies. When one of them, Devon (Alexander Fraser), becomes the victim of extreme bullying, the gaming friends are forced to come together and cope with the brutal and aggravated assault laid upon their friend Devon. Becky (Alicia Rose), whose had a long lasting love for Devon, plans the ultimate revenge by teasing to expose a hidden secret on the world wide web about Devon’s bully neighbor John Brooks (Daren Ackerman). The circle of violence and secrets wildly spirals out of control to an extremely car-crash of a finale that will put Devon, Becky, and John in a trio of devastating destruction.
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“All American Bully,” formally titled “The Innocent,” serves as not the typical bully-revenge film we’re aware of in such films as Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” or Jason Buxton’s “Blackbird” and that creates a misleading film title, but doesn’t necessarily hurt the film’s integrity. Director-writer John Hawkins intentionally creates an unexpected twist that’ll take the film into a totally different direction. With the help of the elusive, yet recently fan-revived cult “Friday the 13th” heroine Andrienne King and the superb acting by Daren Ackerman who portrays complex character John Brooks, “All American Bully” becomes a unique hybrid with a cultural and social timeliness that will surely strike the core like a bully punching you in the gut and kicking you while you’re down all for just your lunch money.
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The John Hawkins film is not solely about high school bullying, but also about mental illness and childhood abuse to which all comes to the forefront to bring the house down at the end. The repercussions from years of bullying results in kidnapping, rape, and murder. Actor Daren Ackerman’s has a wide range playing the disturbing character John Brooks by never backing down from the character’s various stages. Ackerman complete shadows his peers such as Alexander Fraser who can’t strain from a monotone tone, Alicia Rose who has range but just not enough girth, and even Adrienne King who, I felt, played an overacting Principal.
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There seems to be a side story that goes unexplained to which we have to make our own conclusion. Adrienne’s Principal Kane doesn’t trust her employed teacher Mr. Taylor that’s somehow related to her son being gay. I concluded that Mr. Taylor and her son had some kind of relationship that’s not being explicitly explained and this drives Principal King unhinged, but her breakdown doesn’t feel connected to the story, feeling separate from the body and not bring the film to closure. Perhaps Principal Kane’s mental break parallel’s the psychotic break that John Brooks suffers, displaying and defining two various scenarios of pain.
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Speaking of homosexuality, Hawkins hits many gay undertones and not only with Principal Kane’s son and Mr. Taylor. There’s also a past relationship, even if only one sided, between Devon and John when they were tiny kids playing army in the woods. The overuse of the word fag becomes repulsive and that might be intended to reveal the true ugliness of the word. I had always thought fag might have faded into oblivion, especially in the film industry, but I guess in independent ventures the word still thrives to bring out the tensions and angers out of the viewers. Lastly on the topic, John becomes the plaything to all his mother’s friends and some of them being men, creating more taboo and disturbing qualities that make me think Hawkins is one warped individual. When Becky, played by an absolute beauty named Alicia Rose, and Devon actually have a heterosexual scene together, the mood becomes ruined when John gets a hold of them, to punish them, almost for being happy because his life turned out tragic and hopeless.
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Forget the misleading title “All American Bully” (as I believe “The Innocent” works better) and the misleading Wild Eye Releasing DVD cover where a person gripping a firearm at their side in a student filled hallway; instead, focus on the film as a whole where the acting is solid and the direction tells a stunning story of various facets of bullying. Check out this Wild Eye Releasing DVD and also take a gander at the cast interviews as you’ll learn more about the actors backstory and how their take on bullying motivated them to create this film.
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Judgment of Evil Looks: “Blackbird” review!

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Columbine. Your first thought? I bet your first thought is a Columbine high school massacre of 15 students and teachers in April of 1999. Two armed to the teeth individuals walk into a school wearing trench coats and black clothing giving the look of Goth a bad name and forever giving the once questionably fashionable outfit of the early nineties stigma of hate, anger, revenge, and murderous intentions. The film “Blackbird” explores what happens when fear takes over a community because a Goth 15 year old boy makes insubstantial threats among his peers. His life is forever changed because he dresses the part of historical mass murders and lives in a cycle of despair because his right to freedom of speech is revoked by just a few expressive words written on a blog.
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Sean is an outcast. His black, satanic laden clothing, thrash metal music, and pacifist persona make him an easy target for popular kids, say the entire hockey all star team. When popular hottie Deanne shows interest in Sean’s life, the angst of high school becomes more of a burden upon Sean’s shoulders Deanne’s boyfriend threatens him. Sean’s counter threats go public and he is thrown into youth detention center by a community who fears a school-shooting massacre. From then on, Sean is force to conform and lie about who he really is and tries to regain his dignity and self from in and out of jail and in a community that fears him.
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Bravo writer-director Jason Buxton for producing a freshman film that is powerfully anecdotal, well performed by young actors, and well down in a production sense. Lead actor Connor Jessup serves as a force driven by his bottle emotions in the character of Sean. Jessup, who might remember as from TNT’s sci-fi series Falling Skies, harks up being a gothic pacifist as if he was one himself. Another stand out actor is Alex Ozerov as the relentless youth detention center bully Trevor. These two actors, plus a just as equivalently strong cast with Alexia Fast and Michael Bule, represent a strong contingency of intermediate Canadian actors that need more international exposure.
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While Blackbird doesn’t rely on major effects, the captivating storytelling is worth the price of admission. There are numerous underlying issues in Blackbird that are current in today’s world which makes this film so compelling and interesting. Topics like bullying, being true to yourself, high school shootings, parenting, and the broken court system are just a few of many touched upon and exploited for our own good. We, as people, can learn a lot from Blackbird. We can all relate to being bullied and being the bully and facing all the consequences in between.
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This multiple festival award winner is being released on VOD platforms and on DVD home entertainment by Breaking Glass Pictures on October 21st here in the States. This release should be a big win for Breaking Glass and a big win for whomever goes and grabs a copy.