Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Bryan Loves You
Directed by Seth Landau
Written by Seth Landau
Starring George Wendt, Tony Todd, Tiffany Shepis, Daniel Roebuck
Produced by Seth Landau
When Tony Todd tells me at the start of a movie that, should I feel faint while watching this film I should stare at my feet until I “regain equilibrium,” I have a pretty high expectation.
With a buildup like that this had better be a mad lunatic frenzy on fire, that’s all I have to say. Will I be disappointed? Will I tell you that you will be disappointed?
The answer is no. Very unequivocally no.
The plot of Bryan Loves You is strange enough for three—a psychotherapist moves to Arizona and discovers his small town is being slowly engulfed by a religious cult that worships a god named Bryan. His resulting time in Arizona, and subsequent battles with the “Bryans,” have been recorded on camcorder, and Bryan Loves You is the resultant footage.
Of course, it’s surprising enough in that Bryan Loves You is supposed to be some kind of “found footage” flick in the style of The Blair Witch Project, a format that fell into disuse largely because of The Blair Witch Project. I’m not sure why, myself—I rather enjoy the idea, but I suppose it has the prospect of being overused.
But one thing’s clear, Bryan Loves You has used the concept to surprising effect. Yes, it’s disjointed. Yes, it’s downright incoherent at times. But all of this actually adds to the overall picture of a world clearly gone absolutely bughouse. There’s an actual theology invented specifically for Bryan Loves You. They’re going to be ranting about Bryan and Tanzi and an assortment of other folderol that’ll be so thick and so absolutely irrational that you’ll be completely lost, but you know what? These guys will kill for this irrational folderol, and that makes it really, really scary.
Never mind that somebody somewhere is saying the exact same thing about Christianity right now.
My clever socio-political commentary aside, folks, the point is that this sucker will be all over a very, very creepy map and the net effect of this is one truly frightening piece. Seriously, I’m amazed by the kind of discussion that this could engender, and that’s truly beyond what a “horror movie” really is. Bryan Loves You is the kind of thing that could be used in comparative religion study groups. I doubt anyone had that kind of expectation going in, but truly, it could be used in that fashion. The sheer fact that such a use is possible elevates Bryan Loves You beyond the level of mere horror movie and into a new and altogether alien strata of ranking.
If Oscars were given for direct to video horror, Bryan Loves You would be on the Best Picture list.
The ending may be inconclusive, but it will still be creepy. Creepy is the watchword of this whole affair. And stick around through the end credits for more fun!
The special features include English subtitles and a commentary track. Several trailers will be included in the beginning but aren’t selectable on the DVD menu.
All in all, wow. Seriously, wow. This is a concept that came quite literally out of nowhere to be a masterfully creepy ride through religious fundamentalism gone horribly awry. Its depth is as astounding as its breadth, and the overall effect is chilling and awe-inspiring.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org