Chet's father has passed away leaving him with his Dad's fetish club, his archive of "blue movies" that he use to direct, and a 50 year old murder case that he believes his Dad was wrongfully convicted of. Setting out to prove his father's innocence, Chet becomes lost in the fetish underworld surrounded by beautiful yet dangerous women and other people who are after his father's blue movies.
Ah the 50's, a time when Elvis was kick'n out tunes on the radio, Americans lived in terror of those god-fearing communists, and a husband could keep his wife locked up in kitchen to make sure dinner was ready by the time he got home from work. It was a simpler time, it was a better time. Nowadays, wimmin are out voting and fighting to be treated like equals and men are left unable to smack 'em on the ass as a way of giving them a compliment or giving them the back of your hand when they get mouthy. Times they are a changing. The 50's also marked one of the classic eras of film noir where women were still dames and often brought trouble with them to our hard drinking leading man who usually narrated the on goings of the movie.
"American Fetish" is Michael Simmons directorial debut and with his movie he's bringing back retro light-bondage and stocking fetishism with his hyper stylistic noir throwback. Set in modern time, Chet's father was once convicted of murder while filming one of his famous stag loops; or rather "blue movies" as they're referred to. When his father passes away Chet inherits his father's fetish bar, The Nylon Club, and his archive of blue movies. While he tries to keep the club afloat from the expensive payouts he has to make, Chet sets out to prove his father's innocence. The past begins to intrude on the present in Chet's world has becomes lost in a world of fetishisms where seeking the truth my cost him his sanity.
That's about as simplistic as a break down you can get with the movie without having to go into great detail to explain the many different aspects of the story without spoiling anything from trying to make the explanation make sense. Before I get into the story, I'll talk about what makes "American Fetish" work and its strongest point. The movie is shot in glorious 35mm, yeah, who knew people still shot independent features on film. And when I say this movie is hyper stylistic I mean Michael Simmons put so much focus on the way the movie looks that it has style to spare and then some. Beautiful women fill the scenes wearing next to nothing in vintage style lingerie and bring with them that noir sense of dangerous beauties. These women are planted in scenery that have been painted with lights - giving some of the scenes that old Italian gothic atmosphere. Other times the lighting presents and gives an almost other-worldly look that helps convey that exact idea when a character explores the seedy underworld of sex and crime. Drop in an amazing score that can be haunting and also make you feel you've been taken back to the 40's and 50's.
The movie's story and characters are specifically designed to recreate that mood and style of classic noir films, and with the movie's amazing sense of style it definitely succeeds in recreating that look and feeling. The characters are there, especially the female characters, to fit their archetype roles as well as the story of Chet trying to clear his father's name but becoming lost in world that is almost alien to him. The downside though is that the movie puts so much focus on the style and look that the story and characters take a back seat which hurts the movie. "American Fetish" features a number of scenes that aren't necessary to the story causing the middle portion to become muddled, convoluted, and also makes it feel like it is lagging. The beginning sets up the key characters and Chet's motivations as well as complications but this becomes lost in the middle as we are introduced to secondary characters and alternative storylines. When the ending comes rolling around the importance of some of these aspects becomes relevant. The problem though is the ending is open for interpretation where it plays with different themes while questioning the reality of occurrences because of our lead character's lack of sanity. In the movie's attempt at leaving an open ending to make the audience guess what had actually occurred or what it all means, it doesn't tie up everything together like it should have.
"American Fetish" could have been an amazing debut feature due to the fact that it is as stylistic as it is and that it is able to recreate the atmosphere, characters, and setup of a classic noir movie almost to a 'T'. But because the movie went with style over substance, the story and the characters become second nature and it hurts the movie since it becomes a non-thrilling thriller. Even though it wasn't as strong as it could have been I still liked the movie after it was over because it is a beautiful movie that has amazing imagery for an indie feature and I think it's another good release from Unearthed Films. There is enough right things done that "American Fetish" is aesthetically pleasing but outside of the eye candy it is lacking in some crucial departments.