Director: James Tucker

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

AddictionThe acting in Addiction (2003) is certainly uneven, from amateur to passable to one very great supporting performance; & the cinematography just gets by. But for anyone with sympathy for the limitations of no-budget independent filmmaking, & are not put off by exploitation content, the heart of this one is admirable.

Bobby (Frank Franconeri), an office drudge, is mugged in the street. It's a brief performance for Ky Swails as the mugger, but he manages to make his character both frightening & a little bit pitiful. Bobby manages to turn the tables on his attacker, & kills him.

He afterward goes into a heart-palpitating panic with hard-on. He liked the feeling so much that he becomes a serial killer, always pursing the next high.

Haunted by macabre dreams, our restless antihero walks the city at night. He meets a homeless old black man who says he wishes he could die. "I don't mean nothin' to nobody. Just a drunk useless old man." So Bobby kills the harmless old guy right there on the park bench.

Most viewers I suspect would see this as a cheap-thrills seedy film, but it definitely strives for psychological depth, & meaning beyond exploitation. It comes as close as one can ever expect of such down-market productions of being an artfilm about the darkness of the human spirit.

AddictionOur office-drudge-turned-killer has a cousin, Frankie (Joshua Nelson, who also wrote the screenplay), who is a serious crackhead & heroin addict

His life is shown in parallel with Bobby's, as two kinds of addiction with very similar impact on the lives of each man. Frank's being pursued by loan sharks who he knows will kill him if he doesn't pay up, & there's no way he'll ever be able to do that.

Like Frankie, Bobby has no control over his urge. Nor does it much reward him, even though he can't stop looking for that erotic high he felt the first time. He's unable to sleep, has dark circles under his eyes, alienates his wife until she leaves him, screws up at work until he's fired. He loses everything pursuing the high.

Bobby's victims, both in his dreams & in the waking world, mount up. The sex & slaughter sequence with office co-worker Trish (Melissa Bacelar) is the most purely sexploitation, but that one turns out to be "only a dream." The murder of the obese bag lady Angie (Kim Patton) is more in keeping with the film's overall tone. It's especially grim, not for its graphic content but for its emotionial content.

One night he picks up a hooker calling herself Sunshine, whose trust he quickly wins. He's the first john to whom she ever revealed her real name, Ruthie, & even talked to him about her daughter.

He learns so much about her he doesn't want to kill her, but the addiction drives him. He tries to tell her he can't go through with it, & she, thinking he means the sex, does her best to change his mind. This sequence embraces a truly fantastic stretch of dialogue, massively surprising in a Z-movie, & Lydia Fiore as Ruthie turns in a fantastic cinema verite performance.

[SPOILER ALERT!] Lisa (Mim Granahan), Bobby's wife, separated from but still worried about him, goes to see his brother Frankie, trying to find her husband.

We're at the film's climax & Bobby is on his way, at that very moment, to Frank's with the intention of killing him. But it's Lisa who opens the door when Bobby knocks.

As Lisa's taken away in an ambulance, Bobby has prowls through the dark streets until he takes a hard tumble & lies moaning on the verge of unconsciousness, hallucinating that the ghosts of his victims are stabbing him one after the other [END SPOILER ALERT]. Really, for a Z movie, this one's brilliant.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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