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The Good Book   C+

Drop Dead Films

Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Matthew Giaquinto
Writers: Matthew Giaquinto, Barry Gerdsen
Cast: Bryan Campbell, Barry Gerdsen, Chris Paine, Alan Ambron, Mark Banks, Todd Casale, Mike Lynch, Russell Scott, Ed Farmer.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

The Good Book is a refreshing change of pace in the world of low-budget shot-on-video B-movies. In a market fueled mostly by gore, violence, and T&A, along comes this slick plot-driven film ripe with interesting ideas. While marred by some damaging flaws, The Good Book is still well worth a look.

In the near future, the citizens of the world are forced to stay indoors and live solely off the Internet. If they venture outside, they will soon de-evolve into zombie-like mutants due to the depleted ozone layer. A government agency called GVC provides all of life's necessities, and only employees of this organization are ever allowed outside. Our hero in the film, Joseph Cyrus (Bryan Campbell), is a GVC computer repairman. Not long into the film, a God-like being (Barry Gerdsen) begins appearing to Joseph, discussing with him plans to destroy the Internet. Not sure whether these visitations are real or imagined, Joseph starts to doubt his sanity, and his boss and coworkers become suspicious. And what does this "God" really want with him?

Although The Good Book is set in the future, it's not too hard to figure out that the film is making some relevant social commentary about today's Internet-obsessed society. C'mon, how many of you are sitting at your computers right now because you're more comfortable playing with an inanimate object than with interacting with other people? Sure, the Internet is a useful and informative tool, but it just might be turning some of us into...well, zombies, I guess.

The Good Book is nicely photographed, capturing its bleak world with dimly lit rooms, shimmering computer screens, and dark creature-filled landscapes. The wonderfully stylish lighting gives the film a dark, foreboding look. Although it was made on Hi8 video, it was shot in the 35mm aspect ratio and is presented in a widescreen letterboxed format that actually compliments the movie's impressive sense of style.

Now for the flaws. Here's a big one: I didn't give a damn about the main character at any point during this film. Bryan Campbell doesn't seem comfortable in the leading role, giving us a bland performance as a pretty dull character. This hurts the movie quite a bit, since he's in practically every scene. Even when he was being chased through the woods by well-armed GVC coworkers who just might be out to kill him, I didn't care. The action sequences are very well-directed, but without someone to really root for, they're lacking punch. The movie also starts off fairly slow, with the pace finally picking up about halfway through its 81-minute running time. Because of these flaws, The Good Book never managed to engage me in its story the way it could have.

Still, there are many good things about this stylish little flick. There are some clever bits of dialogue here and there, and it's always nice to find an intelligent, literate film among these micro-budget wonders. The music is cool and the makeup effects are great (the film actually won the Best Makeup Effects Award from the 1999 B-Movie Awards). To top it all off, there's one jump-out-your-seat scare that made me do just that. There's much to admire here, but it ends up falling a bit short. Director Matthew Giaquinto obviously has a lot of talent, and I'd be willing to bet that he and Drop Dead Films will turn out something truly special in the near future.

Review published 06.16.2000.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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