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Marina Antunes [DVD News 02.27.12] comedy

Year: 2011
Director: Todd Rohal
Writer: Todd Rohal
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

William is a bit of a screw up. He's young, inexperienced and found lacking in his new role as priest. When it's recommended that he take some time off to find himself and perhaps commune with God, Billy plans a trip. But first he has to drum up a friend and after many a message, his sister's ex-boyfriend Robbie, a guitar player who unknowingly changed the trajectory of Billy's life, agrees to meet Billy for breakfast where he gets suckered into a day trip adventure.

It's clear from early on in The Catechism Cataclysm that with Billy around, things are bound to go sideways and when the pair of "buddies" get lost on the river, missing their pick-up point and facing a night alone in the woods with nothing more than a few beers and some leftover breakfast, things go from awkward to strange when they find help in the form of two Japanese girls and their silent chaperone (or something). A drug-like dream and strange death later, Billy returns from nature a changed man. And a better priest.

It's a strange tale and one full of dark comedy that had me giggling uncontrollably. Billy is a total screw up and when Robbie reveals that he doesn't remember Billy from school, it doesn't come as much of a surprise though how and why Billy ever found himself on the road of religion remains a mystery.

Steve Little of "Eastbound & Down" fame is brilliantly cast as the man-child Billy. The story depends on us believing that Billy is an innocent screw-up and he certainly fits the bill beautifully while Robert Longstreet as Robbie portrays the voice of reason though his motivation is purely selfish. The duo have a great awkward chemistry that gradually shifts into a comfortable state and just when you think that the pair is easing into some sort of friendship, Billy pushes all the buttons that make Robbie's head explode. Literally.

This is by far one of the strangest bits of comedy I've seen in some time but along the way, writer/director Todd Rohal, who made a splash a few years ago with The Guatemalan Handshake, manages to incorporate some great insights and discussions on religion, belief and friendship; not to mention more than a handful of comedic gems. What's most interesting is that even though the movie seems designed to poke holes in organized religion, Billy emerges from this experience a better priest, one that seems to have a better understanding not only of his beliefs but of his saviour.

Though this style of comedy, which occasionally traverses into the territory of mean, won't appeal to the masses, it's bound to ticket some folks pink, especially if you like your laughs a little dark and don't mind a bit of unexplained strangeness mixed in. Strangely, The Catechism Cataclysm reminded me of Kill List in a purely WTF just happened sort of way. I can't wait to check out The Guatemalan Handshake not to mention Rohal's new film Nature Calls which was recently selected to play SXSW.

The Catechism Cataclysm is available on DVD on Tuesday, February 28th.

DVD Extras: A strange, and I mean strange, four minute short called Sasquatch Birth Journal 2 which must be seen to be believed, four minutes of hilarious out takes (Rohal's commentary had me in hysterics), both the English and Japanese trailers for the movie (because everything is better in Japanese) and the crowning jewel, a hilarious commentary track with Todd Rohal and the two leads, Steve Little and Robert Longstreet.

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