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A Girl. A Bet. A Camera. What Could Go Wrong?

Movie Review: Shooting April (2010)
Spoilers: none

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The title of this review is the official tagline to the movie and is arguably the perfect summation of this shockingly sensational independent film about some internet camera junkies, a girl, and a runaway obsession with posting videos of stunts and pranks online for nothing more than attention.

Truman Anderson (Matthew Prater) loves the ladies. His way with them is the envy of every guy friend or acquaintance with whom he has to do. “Weasel” (Eric Fagundes) is his best friend, but lacking in the smooth-lined, “bag 'em and leave 'em” sexual conquest skills that he so admires in his companion. Their friend Doug (Darius Safavi) has a $3000 camera, which he puts to good use fetching material for their website, an excellent place to see petty vandalism, secretly taped make-out sessions, and drinking bashes put on with delirious fervor.

It's all part of the run-of-the-mill, unchallenged stupidity of bagging babes and claiming victory until a pretty, shy, and yet classy girl named April (Rachel Seiferth) enters the picture. Truman is such a “player” that he and his friends come up with a bet. He nails April on camera or has to pay $100 to each of them. One easy lay after another may be what complicates things, as here, the above title/tagline bears repeating: A girl. A Bet. A camera. What could go wrong? The answer: a lot.  

Call it a timely warning to the YouTube generation or call it a graphic tale of the fruits of hedonism unchecked, the film fully deserves the bluntness of the creator's well-chosen title, with its ever-so-slight hint of misdirection. The picture on the DVD cover alone produces a riveting compulsion to watch.

1999’s Blair Witch Project opened with: “In October of 1994, three student film makers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland. One year later, their footage was found.” This one likewise opens with a reference to footage found by law enforcement, but not many in the line of “mockumentary” style films deserve as much kudos as Shooting April rightly gets. If 2009's The Fourth Kind taught us anything, it was that embellished and/or fabricated facts in the name of a made-up story do not always crank out worthy entertainment. One of the keen exceptions is this very credible and well-acted film.

A few long-running moments of parties and pranks, with flippantly used profanity and make-out scenes, serve as foundation-layers for what is a steadily-paced story, which ceases not to grow in satisfaction. Every detail offered up is done so in the name of masterful character development. So much time is taken in this endeavor that it won't be until the end when said efforts can be fully appreciated.

At least one quick shot of male nudity, a few exposed breasts, and free-for-all drinking bashes are shown, with expectedly abrupt cuts throughout the footage for a heightened sense of realism. Shooting April is extremely disturbing, but every bit as compelling (and perhaps more so) than you would expect, considering the plot subject or filming style.

While resisting the temptation to be emotionally exploitative, director/producer Tod Lancaster – in this his directorial debut – devotes the film’s lively energies to behavioral and reactionary nuances that will not go unnoticed by viewing audiences. Powerfully acted and boldly believable, Shooting April is a more than memorable thriller and stands side by side with some of the best films of the year.

(JH)

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Grade: A+ (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: No MPAA rating
Director: Tod Lancaster
Summary: A guy and his two friends place a bet on having sex with a girl named April.
Starring: Matthew Prater "Truman Anderson," Eric Fagundes "Weasel," Rachel Seiferth "April," Darius Safavi "Doug," Lindsay Bellock "Lindsay," Bobbi Jean Basche "Rachel," Marie Westbrook "Donna," Elaine Loh "Elaine," Meghan Ashley "Meg," Robert Donald Lee "Bobby"
Genre: Thriller
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