Although not a particularly outstanding film, My Father Die is an impressive feature debut that is technically sound, and offers audiences a lot to think about.
My Father Die is the dark, twisted and captivating revenge thriller starring Joe Anderson, Gary Stretch and Candance Smith. It’s a promising feature debut from Sean Brosnan (Pierce Brosnan’s son), who wrote and directed the film, which follows a father and a son determined for revenge against one another. Although it’s not particularly outstanding in quality, there’s a lot of good stuff in there.
The film begins when protagonist Asher (Joe Anderson) was just a child (Gabe White), who looks up to his big brother Chester (Chester Rushing). In Asher’s eyes, Chester knows everything there is to know about life, giving him life lessons in girls and sex. However, when psychotic father Ivan (Gary Stretch) catches Chester with local girl Nana, he freaks out and responds by beating the life out of Chester, then punching Asher with such force that it makes him deaf.
This gruesome incident is the starting point of years of built up anger, frustration, and sheer hate. When Asher and his mother find out that Ivan has been released from prison due to overcrowding and good behaviour, thoughts become actions and Asher prepares for the fight of his life.
Revenge missions are certainly not a new premise in film (Cape Fear, Oldboy, Kill Bill), yet Brosnan managed to creative something rather unique. Throughout the film there is no knowing who will win this conflict which broke apart a family 20 years prior, and the unpredictability is what keeps us engaged.
In most scenes there is plenty to look at and think about, and seeing as one of the main characters is deaf and mute, it certainly can’t rely on dialogue to carry it through. Physical acting is a strong point of each of the cast members, in both the physical brawls which erupt more than once, and in the sign language and physical communication present in some of the quieter scenes.
These physical performances are enhanced by the fantastic cinematography which is deceptively clever, giving the audience glimpses of the action but simultaneously keeping things hidden. It is unclear if what is being shown is real life, on TV, in someone’s imagination or perhaps is just completely different to how we first perceived something.
In the midst of confusion and upset about the dynamic of this disturbed family, flashbacks are particularly poignant in explaining to the audience why things are the way they are. Black and white scenes remind audiences that the source of Asher’s hate began in the past, and although the event itself is hazy; the lasting impact certainly is not. Asher’s childhood voice in his head is a clever and effective way of keeping both him and the audience in touch with his traumatic past. His words are like poetry, full of hurt and confusion, and this is what makes us champion Asher.
The score in the scenes which Ivan was in were mostly great, a tense and uncomfortable track which built up to the point where it felt as though Ivan was going to explode in rage. However, the music is mostly hit and miss, sometimes feeling as though it perfectly enhances a scene yet other times feeling completely out of place and only served to give a comic feel.
Performances are strong, with Joe Anderson being the standout who portrayed everything entirely through actions and not a single word. Gary Stretch is a perfect fit for the psychotic Ivan, and although appearing a bit one dimensional at times, so little is known about his character that we’re left asking more questions about him rather than seeing the answers for ourselves.
My Father Die is a unique take on the family revenge thriller concept. It is technically sound and performances are strong and although it isn’t particularly overwhelming, it will give you something to think about.
My Father Die, directed by Sean Brosnan, featured at FrightFest 2016.