I admit I was a bit nervous about this one. Any movie that touts “a new unique (insert genre here)” usually ends up being neither. And just makes me very very angry.
But I’m happy to report that this film didn’t totally suck ass!
Dust Up is the story of Jack, a veteran who’s missing an eye (one eyed Jack, get it?), and lives out in the desert trying to be at peace with the world. His closest neighbor and friend, Mo, who dresses in an Indian bone breastplate, animal skin, and a feather for his sweatband, is about as mellow as they come.
Jack’s handyman job keeps the bills paid and one day he meets Ella, a pretty young woman with a baby and an absent junkie husband, Herman (he’s a roadie), whose ramshackle ramshack is falling apart. While figuring out how to help, the husband returns in a panic - he owes $3500 to the local drug lord, Buzz. If he doesn’t get it by end of day, Herman is a dead man.
Jack, being the honorable man he is, gives Herman some money in hopes of staving off the drug lord for a while. That doesn’t work out so well for anyone and the next thing we know, Buzz is taking over the trailer from Ella and moving his meth shop there. After a couple of deaths, a surprise introduction to cannibalism, and a ridiculous war party drum dance, Ella, Mo, and Jack square off with Buzz in an all out fight.
This ended up not as terrible as I thought it’d be. Lots of tongue in cheek, wink wink nudge nudge stuff going on. Nice little hat tip to Slave Leia and Jabba, too. Rather refreshing because there are so many films out there that try to be so SERIOUS. So ARTSY. This is definitely not fucking Quentin Tarantino - THANK GODS.
Though I’m surprised at how awkward Amber Benson was (part of it was the character but mostly I just felt this was not up to par of past performances), I adored Mo (Devin Barry) and Jack (Aaron Gaffey). I loved the understated nature of their friendship and Mo was really all about the one-line delivery that packed a lot of punch in so few words. The character of Buzz (Jeremiah Burkett) was manic and over the top but he WAS a drug lord who was using his product as well as eating people.
Speaking of the cannibalism, that aspect of Buzz felt totally tacked on. Like the writers finished up the script and thought it might have been lacking something shocking so…let’s make him a cannibal! That’ll justify the exploitation descriptor! It took an hour for this aspect to show up even though it’s in the one sentence synopsis on IMDB.
By the time it did come out, I was getting bored. The pacing dragged for the last 20-30 minutes of the film. There were some obligatory titties (yawn). And I’m a bit pissed off about the pit bull cage fight thing. That was some serious cliched bull shit (I’m very sensitive to pit bull stereotyping).
Overall, though it was a bit lackluster and a little disappointing, it was a decent fun film to watch.
2.5 hatchets (out of 5)