Frank Pierce (Kevin Interdonato) is a bad seed from way back. Long before prison, the “trucking company”, the Marines and three accusations of assault, Frank was just born bad. Five years ago, his life changed, he joined AA, met his wife Gina (Amanda Clayton), found a medication that helps control his rage and got a job working construction. After opening with a sex scene, things don’t take long to start going downhill for Frank. He discovers he is out of medicine, that he won’t be able to get a refill, and then a friend asks him for some “off the books” help.
Filmed over the course of 11 days on a budget of $80,000, Bad Frank manages to be much more successful than some multi-million-dollar budgeted movies. The strength of the film lies in the performance of Kevin Interdonato who is able to portray both the hulking beast of a man that will beat his enemies to death with his bare hands, and the good man who is suffering because of his past, while fighting to hold back his demons.
Tom Sizemore, a man with over 200 acting credits on IMDB who has been known to phone it in a time or two, also gives a good performance here overall. His torture scene is a bit weak, but the rest of the film is vintage Sizemore: a mix of playfulness and intimidation, his usual likable scumbag. Sizemore plays Mickey Duro, the crime boss that makes trouble for Frank and Gina after Frank witnesses a crime he can’t keep quiet about.
The movie’s cinematographer Mike Hechanova did a great job making the film look more expensive than it really was. There was some good basic stunt work, some nice artistic work done in the rain and smart choices with lighting for the majority of the movie. The people behind the sound mix of the movie deserve a lot of credit as well. I was a fan of the intensity and the frequent use of the high-pitched tone that conveyed the intensity of Frank’s headache and his plunge into darkness.
Fans of Kevin Smith movies will definitely recognize Brian O'Halloran, who is best known for playing Dante in the Clerks movies. In this movie, he plays a small-time loan shark to whom Frank’s best friend is in debt. He also gives the worst performance of Baby Got Back known to man. He is the comic relief in this movie. Without him, there would be nothing to cut the movie’s slowly increasing tension. Those small releases help everything flow a little better.
More money would have really helped this film. The limit of the budget really shows when it is time to shoot the night scenes. Outside of the climatic scene, there wasn’t enough money to make sure everything is properly lit. Some of the playing on light and dark is done well, especially when it is used to conceal Frank from us while we are trying to figure out if he is the concerned husband or raging animal. Another fault of the budget is that Mickey is a crime boss with exactly one henchmen. There is talk of a larger operation but we never get to see any of it because more actors cost money. The special effects budget consists of a few packets of fake blood and that’s it. There is a lot of implied violence, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think it would have been helpful if they showed it on camera just once. There was also a major lack of music in this film. Music can help set a tone and build tension in silent moments, and that is missing here.
The closing scenes left a lot to be desired. It did not have a strong enough conclusion to warrant the 103 minutes of rising tension. We are left with many questions: Will Frank and his parents ever be able to work things out? What will happen with Frank and Gina? And just what does Frank mean by “working on their marriage”? After a fairly simple and straightforward movie it is left unnecessarily and frustratingly ambiguous.
Recommendable or Not:
Even with the odd ending and the budget constraints, Bad Frank is an enjoyable movie. If they had another $100,000, I think it would have been a great example of its genre, instead of just pretty good. It is well behind movies like The Machinist for a man’s descent into madness, and Cellular for movies about rescuing a kidnap victim. Overall, I would say it’s a solid 3 out of 5. It’s not great, but worth your time if it is your kind of movie.