The Death of Dick Long
Starring Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Jess Weixler, Janelle Cochrane
*First Paragraph Contains Spoilers*
“We’ve got some real perverts on the loose,” Sheriff Spenser (Cochrane) quips at the onset of the film. “The Death of Dick Long” showcases the abundance of films being released, allowing for a growing segment of these “bizarre just for the sake of being bizarre” films to permeate. Bestiality is more common than most people realize, in fact as portrayed in this film, most criminal cases (although it’s not illegal in some states or countries) are not reported because of the gross unnatural practice and the embarrassment if would bring to loved ones. Director Daniel Scheinert corralled purpose behind his obtuse friendship comedy “Swiss Army Man” about a useful corpse. He doesn’t unlock the same narrative delicacy this time around, using this topic simply as a tool of crude comedy. “The Death of Dick Long” dwells in bad acting, poor lighting and an overall low cinematic quality make the entire experience even less appealing.
For three Alabama rednecks, pretending to be in a band just isn’t providing the sort of escapism they need from mundane lives. Drug use and some unusual sexual appetites from friends Zeke Olsen (Abbott) and Earl Wyeth (Hyland) result in their friend Dick’s death. Horrified at being exposed, they dump his body at a local hospital and hope for the best. Recto-hemorrhaging is the official cause of death which prompts Dr. Richter (Roy Wood Jr.) to call Sheriff Spenser (Cochrane). As the investigation leads unconventional country cops to the Olsen house, the inconsistencies of Zeke’s belligerent story mixed with wife Lydia’s suspicions, culminate in a meltdown.
“The Death of Dick Long” advances forward simply on the audiences frustrations, which shouldn’t be misconstrued with suspense.
*Spoiler in last paragraph*
“The Death of Dick Long” advances forward simply on the audiences frustrations, which shouldn’t be misconstrued with suspense. Each shortsighted decision lead character Zeke makes, invites the viewer to abandon worrying about whether he gets caught or not and simply observe his downward spiral. It’s hard to decipher if Hyland’s performance as the vaping trailer park misfit is novice acting skills or if he is that good at playing someone so ignorant. Newcomb (Jumanji) can’t pull off the varying aspects of shock, anger and total disbelief of her character. It’s somewhat easier to buy into the stupidity of the rebel flag wearing performances of the stoner dudes, but less so the female characters. Scheinert’s film aims for grotesque laughs, the kind you get from substance infused Fantastic Fest or SXSW communal experiences, rarely translating outside those venues.
First time screenwriter Billy Chew fashions this story like a fourth Hangover film set in trailer park. Every character, aside from Dr. Richter and Zeke’s daughter Cynthia (Poppy Cunningham), have some mental block, reflecting the filmmakers viewpoints on Alabama stereotypes. Sure those stereotypes exist, but the script uses them as currency, then expects shocks when an Alabama trailer park redneck is redefining what it means to be a horse whisperer. Chew or Scheinert don’t leave the audience with any moral or insightful takeaways. It’s a “that was weird” and then you discard everything you saw immediately. If you don’t find the bestiality element as shocking as the filmmakers think you will, nor laugh at their jokes, the film just becomes a vapid and excruciating experience. Newcomb’s character does comment that all the weed Zeke smokes has resulted in his current predicament. He doesn’t disagree, which could possibly give some semblance to time spent watching this nonsense.
“Dick Long” isn’t as shocking as it thinks it is, nor as funny when played outside fanboy communal experiences of niche film festivals and gatherings.