Dust Up (2012) -This shockingly violent adventure is brought to us by Ward Roberts who wrote and directed. With a budget of almost nothing he has put together a schlock filled journey where the good guys ultimately win and the desert is made safe from the forces of evil. More than that though it is a redemption story where our hero, haunted by an incident in the past uses the present to make amends and finally allow himself to put the past behind him.
When I saw the announcement for this film on All Things Horror Online with a guest appearance by Amber Benson I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my daughter while she was home from college. An important aside is that I really did not know anything about the movie at this point. So if you think I am likely to go to violent film where there is a scenes where a bar owner masturbates while choking the local Sheriff to death, killing him while he splurges on his face, with my twenty year old daughter , with knowledge of this you are wrong. It was a side effect of not doing my homework about the film. We of course know Amber as "Tara" from the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and saw it as an opportunity to meet someone from the series we both enjoyed. Well so much for safe bonding experiences.
The last time I saw Amber Benson in a film it was the ridiculously funny alien possession film One Eyed Monster, where Ron Jeremy's dick is possessed by an alien, detaches itself and tries to mate with the human in the film. It was a funny but really not a very good film. Recently I watched a movie she co-directed called Drones (2010) that I thought was witty and clever. She also writes and there were quite a few fans of her writing in the audience of Dust Up. Miss Benson was gracious enough to come to the screening and stayed all the way through to a question and answers session afterward, as well as pictures and autograph session in the Museum of Bad Art as well. I know her kindness made the night for my daughter and I so to Amber, Thanks.
The film centers around Jack (Aaron Gaffey) a former soldier who is haunted by an incident while at war in the middle east. After an IED exploded near him, he in a dazed state shot a man who was approaching him only to later realize that the man was coming to help. The sight of the dying man with his crying wife and terrified child still wakes Jack from his sleep. He broke apart a family and the injury he sustains (lost an eye) and PTSD of his war experiences has left him a broken man. He now lives in the California desert working as the High Desert Handyman with few friends. One a young man, Mo (Devin Barry) pretending to be Native American in the most old movie "Indian" kind of look, but seeking a wisdom modern society does not provide seems his best friend. They don't have a lot to do and enjoy the quiet life.
This quiet life is broken when Jack is called to the home of Ella (Amber Benson) to fix her muddy water problem. After assessing her problems and giving a price he returns to his life only to be drawn back in when Ella accidentally calls his phone while she is fighting with her husband (?) Herman (Travis Betz). Herman is a crack head who owes a good amount of money to local drug dealer and bar owner Buzz (Jeremiah Birkett) who is none too happy to use violence in the collection of the money. Jack comes into this situation seeing Ella and her baby and this loser husband he is struck by the guilt of the war experience he had. This spurs him into attempt to try to keep this family together.
Now I don't want to give away the entire plot where this set up is the start of a violent and crazy few days for Jack, Mo, Ella and Herman. As mentioned before there is some really raunchy stuff in this film but it is done like a spaghetti western with the strange violence, impaling, scalping, drugs dance, exploding bars, cannibalism, all leading to a resolution for Ella and for Jack. This movie will not be for everyone but like the recent "Hobo with a Shotgun" for a hyper violence fantasy it is a pretty fun ride. When the film ended and the chat and pictures were done, Joy (my daughter) and I talked about it in the car. She was not quite sure what to think of it and since I have to admit I see a surprising amount of these kind of films I was okay with it. The violence is over the top and disturbing so those who are shocked easily will do well to avoid this film. Still it will get a recommendation from me.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.