With even the worst and weirdest movies we’ve covered here, there’s usually a plot of a sort. “After Last Season”, for all its lunacy, has a beginning and an end, and sort of moves from one to the other. “Things” progresses, even though it’s wretched and utterly technically incompetent (and the director is a miserable bastard for sending me insulting emails). “The Pit” has a relatively standard plot. “Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage” would’ve been a good story, if anyone involved had any aptitude for filmmaking. But with “Fateful Findings”, the third Neil Breen movie, I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve genuinely got no idea. I mean, things happen, but it feels most like the daydream of a teenager who’s led a very sheltered life. Or perhaps, a film made by aliens who aren’t quite sure what motivates human beings, or how they behave.
The first image is a book covered in gold cloth, sat on a stool, in the middle of some storage lockers. The book is a comfortable 5000 pages, almost comically enormous, and as gold is sprinkled on it, we begin our story (just not here, or anywhere near here. Perhaps Neil Breen had a mate who asked to get his storage business on the big screen).
It’s safe to say Neil Breen has a number of directorial fetishes. There are things, images and scenarios, which are clearly very important to him somewhere deep down in his psyche, and he’ll put them in his movies, whether it makes sense or not. First up is the love affair starting in childhood. We’re shown two kids, Dylan and Leah, aged around 7, laughing and playing together, then they go into the forest, walk past the same goat skull we’ve seen in both previous Breen movies (directorial fetish no. 2) and find a large mushroom. As they sit looking at it, it vanishes, being replaced with a small golden box, which has a black cube inside. Dylan takes it, and Leah takes a few of the small jewels sat by the side of it, filling the box with the rest of them as if they were trying to trick a Raiders Of The Lost Ark-style trap. Leah then writes “it’s a magical day” in confident adult handwriting in a little notepad, and repeats “it’s a magical day!” several times, as if trying to convince someone off-screen. Sadly, Leah’s dad is transferred to a new town, so the last we see of them is an extremely awkward hug, and her waving, the camera being sure to focus on the bracelet she’d made from the jewels. These children are bad, even by the extremely low standards of child actors.
Dylan’s an adult now – well, however old Neil Breen is physically (50, maybe? 55?). In a suit, eschewing his love of tanktops for a minute, he’s crossing the street while talking to his wife on the phone, drops it, and gets run down by a Rolls Royce (in the sole passable special effect in Breen’s entire oeuvre). Despite the front of the car being drenched in blood and Dylan being unconscious, his right arm is able to scrabble around til it finds the black cube, which he’s had in his hand for every moment of the last 45 years. This evidently has some supernatural power, and he heals remarkably quickly, to the point within days he’s back in his shower at home, an Elephant-Man-style amount of padding wrapped round his head, having sex with his wife (blood continues to gush down his leg, which indicates the aliens who controlled Breen to make this movie didn’t understand human biology). As he’s just walking out of hospital, we see his ass through the back of his hospital gown, not the first time it’s made an appearance in a Breen movie – directorial fetish no. 3. This is definitely not the last magic power Dylan displays – is novelist / hacker / magic being a better character description than “Double Down” and his robo-zombie-gorilla-space-Jesus?
I think we need to mention the cast, at this point, and give a few biographical points on them all. First up is Dylan (Breen), who has no personality at all. He’s a Computer Science masters graduate turned novelist, whose first novel was very successful – you know this because literally everyone he meets tells him so. After recovering from the crash, he decides to hack all the world’s computers and reveal the greed and lying that’s gone on. His office has four laptops in it! And they’re all turned off! (Directorial fetish no. 4) No interests, no particular reason for wanting to turn the world on its head, just a blank slate with Neil Breen’s face. He’s married to Emily (Klara Landrat), who is a drug addict. Memorably, she fishes Neil’s tablets out of the toilet when he dumps them there after deciding to get by without pain relief. She also has zero personality, other than liking drugs.
Introduced when he visits the hospital to visit Dylan is his best friend Jim (David Silva), who likes working out (judging from his arms) and, despite apparently being on the verge of destitution, owns a Ferrari. Of course, because it’s Breen’s car – last seen in “Double Down” – Jim doesn’t get to drive it, or sit in it, and just gets to polish the left wing mirror (he does this twice). He’s in an extremely unhappy marriage with Amy (Victoria Viveiros), who’s also an alcoholic, loves pills, and has gone off sex. They have a teenage daughter, Aly (Danielle Andrade) who’s obsessed with Dylan, to the point of going to his house, stripping naked and getting in the pool; she has so few lines that it seems almost unfair to discuss her character – she’s also the only person involved in this to have a proper career, having gone on to a bunch of teen-based TV shows.
Wandering into proceedings a little later are the psychiatrist, Dr. Lee, who’s just desperate to get Dylan to take more pills; and Leah (Jennifer Autry), the childhood love who ended up being Dylan’s doctor in the hospital. Well, she sees him laid in bed with his face covered once, but doesn’t bother checking his chart or finding out his name…this gets really confusing in a minute.
Before I discuss the confusion, a word about the dinner party scene. Because that’s what humans do, Dylan and Emily organise a dinner party, and invite round Jim, Amy and Aly. The conversation is so odd, so unlike normal patterns of speech and behaviour, that I seriously started to doubt my own sanity. Nothing could be this weird by accident, right? You could have told me literally any story about Neil Breen’s upbringing at that point and I’d have believed you. Raised by penguins? Sure, why not. Grown on a tree like fruit? I suppose. No one line in the conversation leads on from any other line, and in a filmography as nuts as Breen’s is, it stands out as a really really weird scene. When Jim spills beer on the floor and just laughs it off like he’s a naughty puppy is maybe my favourite part.
The couples argue. All the damn time. Now, again, I’m not sure Breen has ever met another person, because married couples just don’t talk that way. Rather than showing the slightest sympathy or understanding of their partner’s problems, the women scream, and the guys either scream or make demands of their wife’s behaviour.
I’m not sure I’m getting across just how crazy “Fateful Findings” is. Let’s move on to the barbeque, set round the same pool we saw in Breen’s last two movies (directorial fetish or just clever re-use of what you have?). For some reason, he chose to dub in the background noise of a very large party, despite there just being 7 people in attendance. It’s everyone who was at the last dinner party, plus Leah and her fiancée. Now, would you invite the doctor who apparently met you once to a barbeque? Thanks to Leah still carrying round the notepad from when they were kids, Dylan and Leah recognise each other immediately, and boy oh boy is the sexual tension immediately un-apparent.
Dylan says he’s thought about her every day since he was seven years old, and rather than thinking that’s absolutely crazy, Leah reciprocates. She doesn’t even say “you know it’s 2014, right? Facebook is a thing, and you’re apparently a famous novelist. I’m not sure either of us thought about the other at all”. Just drink in the image of the two of them together: Jennifer Autry, a normal-looking woman in her late 20s / early 30s, and Neil Breen, a guy in his mid 50s who looks like he’d just been taken from living in a ditch, given a scrub down and a shave and shoved in front of the camera.
I need to move on, because I could seriously write a full book just about this movie. Amy shoots Jim because he’s suggested she ought to maybe drink a bit less, and despite Aly witnessing the whole thing, makes out it was suicide. This inspires some of the finest dialogue ever from Dylan, as he’s cradling his friend’s dead body:
“I can’t believe you committed suicide. I cannot believe you committed suicide. How could you have done this? How could you have committed suicide?”
Said with less feeling than he has when he’s a bit annoyed with his publisher on the phone. Anyway, Dylan and Leah meet up in the park, admit their love for each other and go for some alfresco lovemaking; while they’re doing this, Emily overdoses on tablets and booze and dies, removing the need for Dylan to have a serious conversation with her about how they’re not right for each other, should get a divorce, or anything like that. Leah moves in and Emily is forgotten about completely; poor woman, having to be married to Neil Breen (even in a fictitious world).
This is already close to being my longest ever review and there’s so much I’ve not mentioned! There’s the dreams, where he appears maybe inside the black cube (represented by just hanging a load of black plastic over the walls), naked; or how he decides to go and see a different psychiatrist, whose office is a couple of plastic chairs in an entirely unadorned room; or the way Aly looks at camera as if she’s saying “I can’t believe this garbage”. What about Leah’s kidnapping? The mysterious shadowy figures? The poltergeist in Dylan’s house? The sideboob? There are a million amazing, hilarious things in this movie, and I hope you discover them all for yourself.
I will mention the end, though. Suddenly, the one-time novelist is able to call a press conference with hundreds of attendees outside a courthouse; as soon as he says “I’ve hacked all this stuff, and I know the corruption” everyone starts applauding. Then…and I can’t believe this happened, even though I saw it myself…the bankers, politicians and lawyers all say how disappointed they are in themselves, and then commit suicide! Some of them even do it at the press conference, which carries on after the first suicide apparently! (Death of corrupt authority figures: directorial fetish).
The more I think about it, the more I love it. It’s among the most entertaining bad movies of all time, mostly because of Neil Breen, who’s passionate, dedicated, and after ten years of making movies, still beyond wretched. Let’s take the way everyone repeats lines – see example above – presumably because the actors didn’t know what to do when the camera kept rolling after they’d finished their line, and Breen was unable to edit. There’s the way he abuses his laptops (he throws books and coffee at them, and when that doesn’t work just throws them to the ground). Talking of laptops, they’re always turned off, and there’s one point where he’s doing big hacking things by typing words from his own novel. Ah dammit, I’m just telling you stuff that happened again rather than trying to analyse it. Sorry!
You could make the case, much like “Double Down”, that this entire movie exists inside the main character’s head – after being hit by the car, his life ebbs away in the hospital bed and his dying brain constructs a fantasy where the black cube he’s carried with him is a magic talisman, and his childhood girlfriend is back. This would explain him having magic powers and being part of a group of shadow-creatures – it doesn’t explain who the other guy with the black shoes who teleports everywhere is, or indeed quite a lot of the movie, but it is a theory. I just think that Neil Breen is a passionate guy who is singularly unable to perform any part of the filmmaking process, and isn’t really sure how relationships, or computers, or the world’s political and financial systems, work.
An absolute cast-iron bad movie classic, as are all Neil Breen’s movies. I think this is the most fun of the three, although they make one of the all-time great trilogies. If you’ve ever agreed with a word I’ve written, please check this out.
Rating: a million thumbs up
PS! I’d almost forgotten about this! As the credits roll, you think Breen’s finally got some funding, as all sorts of companies are listed for the sort of thing Breen does for his own movies – special effects, catering, and so on. But then, like the most boring practical joke ever, he reveals the truth a few seconds later:
Just when you think he can’t get any more amazing, he does.