Directed by Peter Marcy
Firefly is a difficult film to categorize while watching it. On second thought, make that impossible to categorize. It has the earmarks of sci-fi, psychological mindfuck, and … what the hell? … is that possibly a ghost? The story begins on Halloween, and we're introduced to three pivotal characters: Del (C. Marcy), a filmmaker striving to make the quintessential realistic alien invasion film; Brandt (P. Marcy), who is seemingly involved in a strong, caring relationship with his girl friend, Rachel (Persons); and Susan (Hinman), a fun-loving young woman who just wants to party with a mysterious stranger in a weird green mask. Their lives are forever changed by the next morning, however, as Del wakes up in his truck with dirt on his hands and no memory of the night's events; Brandt finds himself floating down the river, still wearing his silly pumpkin costume; and Susan, the most traumatized of the trio, is being wheeled into the hospital with a bump on her head and the unsettling certainty that she's been raped.
The audience learns nothing more as the next thing we know it's five days before Christmas. Del has begun having nightmares about what happened, but they shed no light as to the circumstances. He is forging ahead with his movie project though, and the scenes of him directing his two actor friends on a barren frozen wasteland provide Firefly with some much appreciated lightheartedness. Were it not for these bits of comic relief, the tension would be overwhelming. Meanwhile, Brandt has decided to pop the question to Rachel and buys her an expensive engagement ring suitable for his one true "soulmate." Unfortunately, when they go to their special spot, a lovely pedestrian bridge that spans the river in which he was drifting just a few short weeks before, they find it has been defaced. Adding insult to injury is the fact that he's begun to suspect that Rachel is having an affair. But the real damaged one here is Susan. She's told by a doctor that there is no evidence of molestation or rape, but she can't shake the feeling. Every morning she wakes to the sound of her own voice telling her to "run!" It makes for a scary, bewildering situation indeed.
Just when you think things can't get any more confusing, out of the blue comes a fourth character, a rather strange looking bald fellow (Jorlett; my first thought was that he's a dead ringer for a young Michael Berryman) who wakes up every morning coughing profusely with a handwritten note by his side instructing him to do something. What that "something" winds up being is saving people's lives. First he rescues a mechanic on whom an automobile has fallen; next it's someone about to drown. Here is definitely where the "mindfuck" part of Firefly kicks in. There's another guy with a bandaged head who pops in and out of the action occasionally and someone else who befriends Susan, but we're left totally in the dark as to what it all means and how the characters are inter-connected. Yet, somehow it works.
The film is shot so well in a stark, spare style that despite the slow pacing and my near maddening inability to figure things out, I was completely captivated by it. This is due in huge part to the genius of Peter and Chris Marcy. They co-wrote the script and co-star; and Peter filmed, directed, scored, and edited it. Not only that, but they populated the remaining roles with some amazing actors, all of whom, judging by their IMDB credits, were first-times. How the Marcys were able to compile such an immense amount of talent on a shoestring budget out in the middle of nowhere (Firefly was filmed in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the dead of winter) with such an outstanding result is beyond me, but kudos to everyone involved. According to an email I received from Peter, they are gearing up for their next venture, and the potential they have to build upon their success with Firefly warms my indie-loving heart!
On the other hand, don't let this glowing review fool you. Firefly is most assuredly not for everyone. Its measured pace and artsy camera work will be off-putting to those who prefer their horror fast and furious and in their face. The time it takes to get from the Point A of Halloween night to the Point B of the film's final 15 minutes in which everything is revealed will be tedious to some and downright snooze-inducing to others. But variety is what makes this world go around, and I feel quite fortunate to have filmmakers like the Marcys in our midst creating unusual, interesting scenarios and exploring different themes than just your typical splatterfest, zombie-thon, or teen-driven suspense thriller. The payoff may take a while to arrive, but when it does, it's wholly believable and worthwhile.
I'm pretty sure Firefly is done with its film fest run, so it's doubtful our Dread Central readers will be able to catch a screening anytime soon. But if there is any justice in this world, one of these days some smart DVD distributor will come across the film and get it out to the masses where it belongs. In the meantime do yourselves a favor and at least check out the trailer on Firefly's official site, and then join me in awaiting news of the Marcy boys' next project. If it's genre-related, I can guarantee we will be all over it!
3 1/2 out of 5
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