Directed by Jose Prendes
Sometimes, it’s those little slices of madness that keep us alive, and after watching Jose Prendes’ The Divine Tragedies, I’d be willing to offer this: Breathe it in and revel in its lunacy, for it is controlled, but oh so ferocious.
I hope I didn’t lose anyone there, and so as not to confuse the readers, I’ll stand by my statement that this was one of the better films I’ve personally dropped eyeballs on in some time.
The movie showcases the relationship between two half-brothers, Thomas (Jon Kondelik, who also produced) and Charles (Graham Denham), and their perpetually inebriated mother (scream queen Barbara Crampton), who never leaves her bed, all the while constantly requesting robust dosages of her “medicine” (red wine). Both brothers are eloquent, very intelligent, and completely insane – at times the two have nearly the same makeup characteristically speaking as American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Thomas is the more aggressive one, in both attitude and actions, while Charles is slightly more reserved and clearly the favorite of dear old bedridden Mommy (think a Norman Bates-like relationship).
Brotherly love is an emotion that is not lost on the two; however, their interconnection could easily best be described as terse. They both enjoy spending time at the movies, their favorite dine-in joint, and the idea of the perfect murder. Such a killing performed in an artistic and iconic fashion is their ultimate goal, and when a burgeoning romance between Charles and the local diner’s waitress (and single mother), Genevieve, begins to gain some traction, it is of mutual understanding that she will be the brothers’ ultimate conquest in their search for the perfect murder.
Only after a brutal slaying occurs do the brothers’ roles begin to switch places – Thomas, who once was the dominant half of the duo, seems to have been reduced to a remorseful shell of his former self, while Charles’ disposition has completely undergone a psychiatric renovation for the worse: His anger has manifested far past the point of return, and he suffers from hallucinogenic visions, all the while readying himself for his next spree killing. Ken Foree throws his wrench into the half-sibs’ sanguinary activities as psychic Detective Homer Gaul – his trail to the killer (or killers) at large is paved by the clairvoyant touch he possesses, using handshakes and conversations with the dead in order to expedite his investigation.
Tensions begin to mount between the brothers as the authorities close in, and the film gets tightly wound up, leading to a very interesting conclusion. Prendes takes a true case from way back in the day (the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder) and throws his own spin on it.
If I had to delve through the layers to find some negatives, I’d offer that the dialogue between the brothers comes off as hokey at times, there is a bit of CGI with some of the killings that I felt cheapened those murder scenes, and Barbara Crampton was severely underused in her role in a movie that seemed to drag just a LITTLE too long (almost two hours).
Other than the aforementioned cons, the positives decisively tip the scales and provide the watcher with a fun film with just enough dark humor and decent kicks that will suffice the psychotically intrigued viewers who also feel the need to have a strong sense of family represented in their madness. In closing, believe me when I say while most tragedies are completely lamentable, this tragedy is simply divine.