This past week, I had my first opportunity to experience Fateful Findings, a movie from the contemporary trash cinema master, Neil Breen.
Neil Breen, who performed just about every major role behind the scenes of the movie, is apparently a successful Las Vegas architect who self-funds his film productions with his profits. On top of his numerous behind the scenes duties, he also stars in all of his films, and Fateful Findings is no exception.
Fateful Findings was released in 2013, and is Breen’s third feature-length work. A fourth feature, Pass Thru, is due to release in 2016.
Fateful Findings is a movie that almost defies summary. There are so many sub-plots, dropped threads, and non-sequiturs that the story is barely coherent. On IMDb, the plot is broken down as follows:
A small boy discovers a mystical power as a child. He is then separated from his childhood girlfriend. He grows up to be a computer scientist who is hacking into the most secret national and international secrets, as well as being an acclaimed novel writer. His childhood ‘finding’ gives him amazing paranormal powers. He is reunited with the childhood girlfriend, mystically, on his hospital deathbed… as his relationship with his current drug addict girlfriend is deteriorating. The passions build between the threesome. Mystical, psychiatric and worldly forces rise to prevent him from revealing the hacked secrets. He attempts to reveal all in a Washington DC large press conference, with ‘fateful’ and dangerous consequences.
Fateful Findings is one of the most deeply incompetent films I have seen in a long time. Honestly, Coleman Francis, who could never quite figure out how sound worked on film, made more watchable movies than Neil Breen. Not only is Fateful Findings written in a confusing, convoluted, and rambling way, but both the sound and visuals are lacking on a near-parallel level.
Any given sequence might feature an airplane flying overhead, a loud air conditioner, inexplicably loud ambient tones, or silence for no apparent artistic purpose. Really, the sound throughout the movie is a crap shoot in every way imaginable. There is even one sequence where the sound of keyboard typing continues in the background after the character is no longer on the computer.
The visuals are primarily comprised of awkward close-ups, with occasional strangely set up two shots. A number of sequences feature two or more people at a table, which rapidly become confusing thanks to the way the shots are structured, and the fact that Breen can’t seem to fit more than two people in any given shot. Even worse, however, is the fact that the acting is all truly horrendous, which makes the pressure of the closeups unbearable. On top of that, the editing leaves in long stretches of silence between lines, that only serve to enhance the awkwardness of their deliveries.
Honestly, I could go on forever nitpicking specific issues with this movie. However, here is the key takeaway: with the right group of people, Fateful Findings is a blast. This is a weird movie that takes itself way too seriously, and is all the more comedic because of it. It is almost artistic in its lack of cogency, and in how it revels in its own terrible form and practice. Surreal might be the right word for it, but I would hesitate to give it that much credit: it is a nonsensical fever dream of a concept that somehow made it to film without getting translated into any language at all.