Joshua (V)

Lately I’ve been shying away from reviewing independent films for various reasons, one being most of them are terrible, and two being that I’m slowly losing the patients for them. So when I actually make it through an hour and a half indie film, and take the time to review it, you know there must be something special about it. So take note, you are going to want to pick up Travis Betz’ Joshua when it hits DVD on Valentine’s Day 2006…

Reviewing Joshua is going to be difficult because so much weight lies on the story and how it unfolds- and I can’t tell you a damn thing without ruining it. The best I can give you is that Kelby Unger and his fiance Amelia return to his hometown of Bisbee after 13 years for his father’s funeral. His father is spit upon as he was convicted of killing Kelby’s little sister when he was just a boy. The story seems simple as it begins, but once we are tipped in the direction of someone named ‘Joshua’, things start to get a little confusing, or so we think. Kelby’s old friends are acting strange and confrontational, but why would they do such a thing around his father’s funeral? The story takes quite an interesting turn, and what he discovers is more terrifying than the Devil himself. The tagline says it all, “I believe we make our own hell.” Think you know what‘s going to happen? Well you don’t.

Aside from some really bad acting, and an obviously low budget, the movie (that took over two years to make) is really incredible and could become a quick cult classic amongst horror fans. If some Joe Shmoe with no money can come up with a plot as brilliant as this, I don’t understand why Hollywood can’t come up with something original? The major shame with Joshua is that you’ll have to see a low budget indie version of a film, which actually should have been a major motion picture (any studio execs reading this?). Travis Betz writes a tremendous screenplay with some terrific dialogue and executes plot devices like he’s been writing for years. Usually first time writer/directors aim at such a large tale, but have no clue how to take us through the journey from point A to point B. Betz brilliantly crafts the story that entertains from beginning to end, while crossing all of his “T”s and dotting all of his “I”s. Everything he hints at has a point, and no clue is left dangling. You could say this is one of the best indie packages since Ti West’s The Roost. Speaking of The Roost

The score was magnificent for an indie pic, and the reason why is quite simple- Jeff Grace, who also composed the score for The Roost, was the mad genius behind it. The pacing, timing and element was near perfection. Watch this guy; he’s going to be doing some big stuff in the future.

Joshua was shot on super 16mm, which brings a nice quality to the film. The pic has a grainy and dirty look that takes me back quite a few years. It also carried a washed out and yellow tinted look that gave the film a home video type of feel, which was perfect for this type of story.

For the gore hounds you can count on some really disgusting moments. One of the best moments comes when a character loses his mind and chops off one of his hands. Travis’ moment can be compared to James Wan’s Saw when Carey Elwes removes his foot. And as simple as the plot sounds, there are creatures in the night, and the FX work was truly disturbing and grotesque.

When I finish watching a movie at 5 in the morning and am dying to wake up my friends to tell them what I just watched, that really means something to me. Over the past few days I’ve let the film resonate with me, and I still feel pretty confident in my strong reaction. I’m hoping the film holds up upon second viewing, even after I already know what’s in store. I would highly recommend Travis’ Joshua, which is easily one of the best indie pics I’ve seen all year. The film is cruel, demented, twisted, and unrelenting- get ready to have nightmares. The thing that really sticks with me is, could people like this really exist in our world? The past can really carry a burden on your future; I do believe we make our own hell…

Official Score