Serving Up Richard (2012)
Directed by Henry Olek
With a title like this, viewers have a pretty good idea what they're getting into. And first-time director Henry Olek does not disappoint. Serving Up Richard is a tale of suburban cannibals who ensnare their victims with a classified ad for a sweet classic used sports car. It's the perfect modern-day lure.
The unfortunate victim in this film is Richard Rubens (McCall). Richard is trapped by Everett Hudgens (Ciccolella) and his wife, Glory (Priver), who appears to be suffering from some unnamed illness. Richard finds himself locked in a large prison cell set within the Hudgens' living room. The couple, especially Everett, delight in toying with Richard, not at all trying to hide the fact that they plan to indulge on him when the time is right. The question is: When will the time be right, and will Richard have enough time to find a way out of his personal prison before the dinner bell rings?
Richard finds a possible ally as he begins to bond with Glory. Finding a kindred spirit, who also appears to be a captive of Everett, albeit on a much different level, Richard tries every trick he can conjure to woo, finesse, cajole, beg or cry the key to his cell from around the chain on Glory's neck. And it's this relationship that ends up shaping and defining the film.
Co-written by director Olek with Jay Longshore, Serving Up Richard contains comedic elements that flavor the film. Richard's dialogue while interacting with his captors is laced with some great one-liners, and as his situation gets increasingly horrific, you can sometimes only shake your head and think, "How much worse can things get for this poor bastard?"
The most powerful character in the film is Everett, played brilliantly by Ciccolella. To help build tension, the character of Everett becomes increasingly more frightening as the film rolls on. He goes from friendly neighbor to insane cannibal to possibly something even more frightening as we learn more about his mysterious interests. Perhaps the most chilling thing about Everett is his lack of remorse for his cannibalistic endeavors. Instead of showing any kind of human side, Everett actually revels in his actions.
The two main characters, Glory and Richard, are well played and entertaining; however, neither delivers the punch that Everett serves up. As the focus of the film, Richard is charming and proves to be a sympathetic victim although we come to find out he's committed his share of sins as well. Glory is heavily made-up and obviously wearing a wig, which we can attribute to the backstory that she has some type of disease, but these things are never thoroughly explained. She appears coy and vulnerable but proves to be quite the opposite.
The film is basically shot in one average room. However, that room does have a prison cell built into it. Picture the set of "Barney Miller" in a living room in the suburbs, and that is the backdrop for Serving Up Richard. Without the luxury of moving from place to place, the story and characters need to drive the film, and they do so satisfactorily.
Serving Up Richard is a creative and unique film that tells an interesting story. It gives you some laughs, some scares and some gore. The film is entertaining, if not always completely believable. In addition to the scares, thrills and laughs, Serving Up Richard delivers a finale I guarantee you won't see coming. It's a slick indie that will certainly entertain.
3 1/2 out of 5