Three friends try to cope after one of them is bullied. Their lives are slowly torn apart as they fall deeper into a twisted web of buried secrets, ignorance, and revenge. It turns out no one is truly innocent...
In the film, ALL AMERICAN BULLY, Devon Manning, is what most would consider a "Geek" by today's standards. He doesn't exactly fit in with the High School "it" crowd, but he finds comfort in a group of like-minded friends. A group that includes Garrett and Becky. The group isn't out there socially, they don't create mischief, or partake in drug use. No, their idea of fun is playing "DragonQuest" on Friday nights. Although in their own little world, so to speak, life is peaceful. However, Devon's world is turned upside down when he finds himself being bullied by one, John Brooks. Although John used to be a best friend to Devon, when the two of them were younger, both age and influence has now changed him for the worse. Now, the opposite of Devon and his pals, John is that hard partier, who thrives on trouble making. A chance encounter with John, sets in motion an on-going cycle of torment of Devon, which commences with a brutal beating at the hands of John and his gang(which ends with Devon's false confession of homosexuality). Recording the incident, John posts the video online the next morning. The video, of course goes viral, which causes even more trouble for Devon around his small town, especially at school. Following the event, Devon keeps himself closed up him his room, in the dark, which is uncharacteristic of the usually, high-spirited, Devon. Taking notice of this, Becky takes it upon herself to bring himself out of his shell, as she eventually convinces him to take a stand, and fight back. To do this, Devon reveals to Becky, a secret from his and John's past, one that certainly contradicts his bad boy image. Armed with this, Devon and Becky, take to the Internet to post a video, which teases that they would be posting John's terrible secret the following day. However, before this can a occur, John sees the teaser, and is sent into a tailspin. Now on the edge, fearing that he will be judged, and his reputation will be tarnished by the revelation, John then resorts to drastic measures, resulting in actions that could forever shake his small town.
When it comes to ALL AMERICAN BULLY, a film from Writer/Director Jason Hawkins, it is not the type of film that WILD EYE RELEASING usually releases. With that in mind, I had wondered what it was about the film that made Rob Hauschild and company want to pick it up. Yes, it does have a selling point for the Horror community, who will obviously want to see FRIDAY THE 13TH's Adrienne King, who here, is in her third film since her return to the spotlight. How ever, personally, I knew that there had to be something special about it, and indeed there is.
Although shot on an obviously lower budget, ALL AMERICAN BULLY is a film that tackles a subject that has been all over the headlines in recent years. And that is the subject of bullying. On the subject, there have been newpaper articles, fact based documentaries, as well as several films made. So what is it about ALL AMERICAN BULLY that makes it any different from the rest, you inquire? Well, although the film's budget is apparent through out, it is a film that manages to effectively display the darker side of bullying. Sometimes situations do get worse over time, and do become this grim, and to the film's credit, it doesn't attempt to sugar coat it. ALL AMERICAN BULLY is honest, and at times, is a brutally realistic portrayal of things. There is a rape scene in this film that really disturbed me. And as bad as this sounds, that is a good thing for the film. Why? Because rape is, of course very ugly, so at least a film like AMERICAN BULLY is attempting to raise awareness of these types of things.
In terms of ALL AMERICAN BULLY, yes it is low budget(there it is again!). Because of that, it will likely, and unfortunately turn off a lot of folks, especially those who are not exactly used to indie film. I mean, even I, someone whom has seen a ton of films, was a little hesitant to welcome it at first. However, once I got settled in, I found myself becoming more and more interested in what I was seeing. Devon Manning, as played by Actor, Alexander Fraser, becomes very likable, to the point that sees the viewer becoming invested in his story. So much, that when the events that occur, begin to effect him, we care. We care, not only for Devon, but for his friend Becky as well. Although they initially appear as "just friends", it is clear that they clearly dig each other, so that when they do hook up in the film, it feels rewarding....beautiful even. Which is what makes the the film's final act emotionally crushing. Fraser, and Alicia Rose play well off each other, creating a very likable and believable bond. Rose, who here, proves herself to be an incredible actress, especially stands out. Believe me, I was hurting for her during one sequence in particular, which is a credit to her seemingly natural ability to convey, Not only is Alicia Rose beautiful(My friend James DePaolo, of Wicked Channel.com, and I seem to agree on that), this young lady can act! Beyond these two, who I consider to the film's true stars, the film is surrounded by decent acting jobs from the rest of the cast, despite showing traces of overacting at times. This would exclude the aforementioned King, whom has a great showing as Principal Kane. Kane is a Woman who can relate to some of the film's subject matter. She has had a tough time excepting the life choices of her son - feeling as though she as sort of "failed" him. With that, she intends to do what's best for her students, but when things don't seem to be going as she had planned. It appears that she has become emotionally unstable. And while her character isn't elaborated on much, beyond a few scenes, we are able to come to understand this from King's performance alone(I do hope that Adrienne will continue to act more in the future).
And in leaving, I have to say that I am pretty impressed with ALL AMERICAN BULLY. It is not the typical project that obviously hopes to be released upon to the world, just for the sake of possibly capitalizing on the hot topic of the moment. It hopes to not just be a form of entertainment, but an eye-opening experience. As to have someone think, "You know, maybe I shouldn't have said, this", or maybe, "I shouldn't have done that". Despite it's set backs(which are only minor, and are attributed to budget, and overall experience), I feel that ALL AMERICAN BULLY is a film that gets the job done. It succeeds in what it sets out to do, with a turn of events near the end, which are especially intense.
5.5/10 The film's score is used sparingly through out. There is suspenseful scoring, along with occasional ambient tones heard. In addition to this, the film also features a number of good, indie Rock tunes.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
With so many films being released today with no real purpose, besides cashing in, It's refreshing when a film like ALL AMERICAN BULLY can be seen. However it is likely a film that would not be released by a number of labels, simply because it's not "exploitative" enough. So Kudos to WILD EYE RELEASING for putting this out, and congrats to them on getting this one into Red Box, which is huge news for the label. Yes, while many people will look at this film, and walk right past it. I hope that there will be people out there who give this film a chance, as it is a film that has more heart and good intentions than most other current indie releases of the same, or similar ilk. You can check out the film on DVD, or by hitting up the closest Red Box near you!