One Bad Post [Mycle Scheuer, UK, 2019]
The reunion of old friends in movies often constitutes a recipe for painful revelations and toxic betrayals. Often, barely healed wounds are reopened, and eviscerating traumas best forgotten are brought to the surface in violent and public ways. It was a subject explored with microscopic precision and to great effect in Fyzal Boulifa’s recent debut feature Lynn + Lucy [UK, 2019], and more broadly in Peter Berg’s dark wedding comedy Very Bad Things [USA, 1998], but can the same type of meticulous observations of past lives be faithfully portrayed within a 16-minute short? Mycle Scheuer attempts just that in his black comedy One Bad Post.
The film’s opening titles appear (over the image of a room full of collapsed drunks and discarded bottles and pizza boxes) in a glitchy, 8-bit font resembling text messages, giving us an early hint at one of the story’s main dramatic devices (pun intended). Instantly this title sequence calls to mind the much-loved geek comedy series, The IT Crowd [UK, 2006-13]. Beyond these superficial comparisons, Scheuer’s film, unfortunately, possesses neither the depth nor complexity of Boulifa’s film, or the incisive wit and potent humour of Berg’s cult classic or Graham Linehan’s hit show.
Two friends, Chaz and Frankie stumble from a reunion party into the woods and Chaz, having had one too many, begins feeling sick. Frankie follows him in as they both sit and rest and lament their old school, but it appears as though Frankie’s resentments are more pronounced as he starts crying. “C’mon, Wanky Frankie!” is Chaz’s feeble attempt at cheering him up. “That’s fucking why! Everyday, you and your friends calling me that,” retorts Frankie. In a lengthy exchange, it is revealed that Chaz bullied Frankie, but Chaz had no idea to what degree his jocular jibes had an effect, and yet is still dismissive when it’s relayed to him in the present.
Chaz turns to urinate and, mid-stream, checks a text message on his phone. In this moment, he suddenly realises the errors of his ways but, just as he is about to apologise, Frankie clobbers him around the head with a stick, knocking him unconscious. In a moment of frenzy, Frankie takes a photo of the body and posts it on social media suggesting Chaz is “#Totlysmshed”. To reveal the remaining plot beyond this would perhaps ruin the twist, although it is in this second act that the more comedic side of the plot presents itself.
There are definitely elements of the film that should be commended, particularly the sound and visual design from Nicky Nganga and David Sohanpal respectively. The moments where we see the text messages flash up onscreen are a neat touch, with their blurry effect evoking the wooziness of the protagonists as they read them. The performances are fairly enjoyable too, particularly Lucas Pozzey as Chaz, whose “down-at-the-mouth” nonchalance resembles a latter-day Johnny Depp.
The problem lies, essentially, in a not particularly interesting script or characterisation. Obviously, the subject matter is sensitive, albeit well trodden and more insightfully explored in territory elsewhere. Here, perhaps because neither character is particularly likeable, it is extremely difficult to care about the outcomes of this scenario. Although not a bad film overall, perhaps, in a more interesting setting and with more imaginative dialogue, the film might have triumphed.