Tag Archives: Will Brill

No Bromance

To the Moon

by Rachel Willis

Written, directed by, and starring Scott Friend, To the Moon attempts to capture a tense weekend when a husband and wife are forced to spend time in the company of the husband’s estranged brother.

Dennis (Friend) and Mia (Madeleine Morgenweck) have retreated to the family cabin to help Dennis kick his numerous addictions. From what we gather, this isn’t the first time the couple has done this. An accident in Mia’s past, and a hinted miscarriage, compound the couple’s troubles.

To complicate matters, the two wake up one morning to find Dennis’s brother, Roger (Will Brill), performing a strange, yoga-like ritual in the yard. The dog seems just as confused by this newcomer as Dennis and Mia.

What works for this taut little thriller is the obvious tension between Dennis and Roger, as well as between Dennis and Mia. There is a lot going on beneath the surface of their dinner table conversations, and from the moment Roger arrives, something is in the air between the brothers. Mia does her best to keep up cheery conversation, but Dennis makes it difficult. Roger also has a bad habit of offering his opinion in places where it isn’t wanted.

However, when Dennis describes this very Zen Roger as malevolent, it seems like a strange choice of words. There isn’t a lot of information forthcoming regarding Roger’s back story. He mentions a hospital, but the we’re left wondering about Roger’s past.

WIthheld information makes Dennis’s mistrust seems ill-conceived. Hallucinatory moments don’t exactly help us put faith in Dennis. Though Roger is nosy, a bit creepy with his mannerisms, and a little “out there,” he doesn’t put off a vicious vibe. Unlike Dennis. Everything from his resting bitch face to his tone of voice suggests a potential for violence.

It can be hard to convey paranoia on film, but Friend manages with a few key moments. However, his streamlined script leaves too much unsaid and unexplored. As we approach the climax, it isn’t enough to leave the audience wondering if Dennis’s paranoia is justified or simply a result of his withdrawal.  

Through the Wringer

Test Pattern

by Brandon Thomas

The debut feature from writer/director Shatara Michelle Ford, Test Pattern, is a compelling look at date rape, its confusing aftermath, and the ways in which the medical field and law enforcement can fail victims with their chaotic bureaucracy. 

After an opening that delivers one of the sweetest, most awkward “meet-cutes” in recent memory, Test Pattern digs into the burgeoning relationship between Renesha (Brittany S. Hall of TV’s Ballers) and Evan (Will Brill of The Eyes of My Mother). Their life together is put to the test after Renesha is drugged and sexually assaulted after an evening out with her girlfriend. 

Test Pattern offers a matter-of-fact approach that makes it hard to look away. The audience is with Renesha every step of the way as she traverses the confusing hours after her assault. It’s an honest, but tough, journey we take with her as she runs the gamut of emotions and, at times, humiliating experiences.

Nothing in Test Pattern would work if the strength of the cast wasn’t there. Hall is jaw-droppingly good as Renesha. She easily conveys strength, vulnerability, and poise in her early scenes. At one point on their first official date, Evan comments, “I feel like you always know what you’re talking about.” There’s no greater summation of the Renesha we meet early on.

Brill is equally good as the doting, supportive Evan. Evan’s almost “too nice” persona is in contrast to the man we see later in the film. His focused, almost fanatical need to get Renesha in front of a doctor and the police starts to feel like a salve for his wounded pride, not her well-being.

Together, these two actors have the type of natural chemistry that isn’t often seen. They deliver lines from Ford’s already expertly written script with ease and purpose. You can almost feel the history of this relationship pour off the screen. The genuine love and respect shared between Renesha and Evan make it hurt all the more as things start unraveling. 

Ford’s slow-burn approach to the story, and especially the aftermath of the assault, offers an incredibly riveting, and honest approach to this serious subject matter. The tension that begins to build as Renesha and Evan drive from hospital to hospital sometimes feels akin to some of the more emotionally disturbing horror films from recent years. The result is a direct focus on the painful process this couple is forced to endure. 

Test Pattern presents no easy answers. Renesha and Evan’s story isn’t wrapped up in a nice bow for us to feel good about. We don’t get the happy ending; we get the honest one.