Insomnia causes a writer to suffer from hallucinations. He's distracted, irritated and slowly going mad. He's soon taking it out on the people around him, and he's not afraid to take violent measures.
For a while now we have been planning to do our very first double-review for Trevor Juenger's "Coyote". He's a good friend of ours so both me and Ronny wanted to get our opinion out there. Not to mention "Coyote" is also the second film to be produced in the D.I.Y. Kino movement which was started with "Coyote" and our own film, "Dust Box". Anyway, we ended up deciding to do two different reviews for it. Info and a few other things will be copied in both reviews, but otherwise they represent out separate opinions. Spreading the Film Bizarro love, that's all! If you want to read Ronny's review, click here!
Taken from Ronny's review: Trevor Juenger's "Coyote" is not connected to the short film we reviewed recently - they are very much different movies. The short film was a different take on werewolves, and Juenger's is the story of a man, his typewriter and his insomnia. Bill works at a moving company by day, and his nights... well, that's there things are going awry. He tries to write but his extreme insomnia makes it hard for him. It's pushing him to the edge. He's suffering from hallucinations and is functioning less and less as a normal person. We're talking downright insane!
To help simplify things, I just copied Ronny's write up for the plot description since it's good and there's no need for another one. Anyway, "Coyote" is a movie that I was able to read the script for when Trevor had initially completed it (not sure what draft it was) and it was a very interesting script: some macabre-horror elements, body-horror transformations and some interesting direction choices with lots of psychological themes. I was so intrigued with the script and having seen some of Trevor's previous short films, I immediately wanted to see the movie. That leaves the question: Did the movie live up to the script?
Oh yes, most certainly. Actually what I was picturing in my head doesn't come close to what Trevor actually delivered. It was better. "Coyote" is a intriguing movie to watch because it's the type that you can't describe even if you wanted to. It covers a number of genres and feels like it's a horror or an arthouse movie at times, and at other times, it doesn't. The movie's roots are embeded into psychological horror -- the plot revolves around a man whose own paranoid delusions won't allow him to sleep which pushes him closer and closer to the edge. From there, Trevor successfully branches the movie out to different genres and themes. Such as the Cronenberg-ish type of body-horror theme that runs through the movie. As the character Bill says, "I am a pupae.This human body is not my final form..." which leads into one of the movie's more memorable and shocking moments. The movie also branches off into the more surreal horror elements where the experimental side of this project really took over and pushed this movie forward.
For me, what I found the most interesting about the overall style of the movie is that it never felt like there was a reality. And by that I don't mean the movie is unbelievable but usually with films where the story is about the dissolving of a character's mental condition, you have definitive worlds: the character's real world and their nightmare world. You watch as the two slowly merge. "Coyote" always felt like something wasn't right. Something was off. The word is completely overused these days but "Coyote" is a surreal film because there is less of a distinction between the nightmares and the reality. Technically, it all looks and feels like a nightmare.
It's an aspect that I thought was particularly excellent because it fits with the character Bill; he's a man who is going insane because he can no longer separate the two himself. It's a way of bringing you, the viewer, into the world of "Coyote" which is an accomplishment initself since it's never easy to become involved with a movie when they are as abstract as this. There is a storyline in the movie but it often behaves more as a stream of conscious thought (or is that subconscious?) which can be alienating for a viewer. The fact that you are being drawn in allows the experience to feel like there's more to the movie than being visual stimulated from the creative camerawork,or the often grotesque horror elements. It's what allows the movie to do more and go further than what is usually done with psychological and character based pieces. You become and are a part of Bill's downward spiral into madness.
For me, that alone makes me say "Coyote" is a success. It accomplishes what it sets out to do: take you on a journey of a character who descends into insomnia driven insanity and fits a look and atmosphere to complement that story and those themes. From a technical standpoint, the movie is an amazingly bold first time feature due to Trevor's willingness to experiment with how the movie was shot, how the story was told along with shifting in tones and genres. Much to my surprise, there was even a break in the 4th Wall and even more surprising, didn't change the overall tone/atmosphere of the movie. As I said before, "Coyote" can feel like a particular genre and seemingly not feel like it as well. It comes from the fact that the movie jumps from horror to arthouse to pitch-black comedy and comes around again.
Having such drastic difference, tonally, is not an easy task and especially not easy to make work. Somehow, it felt appropriate with the subject matter. Much like an unbalanced, emotional disturbed person (Bill, for instance) experiencing a constant fluctuation of highs and lows. The movie can make you laugh, albeit uncomfortably, one moment and have you squirming the next from the ghastly horror. The content of "Coyote" helped in making those transitions work and not seem awkward like they normally would and in turn the differing tones allowed the audience to breathe and not become overwhelmed by the intensity of the story and the visuals. It's that thing that allowed you to catch your breath before you had your head held under black sludge. A metaphor that will probably make more sense when you actually see the movie.
There's a lot that I would like to talk about when it comes to Trevor Juenger and his movie "Coyote" but between two reviews, I don't think there's much else that needs to be said. I hope, anyway. No doubt there are a number of things that I could and should have touched on, but I digress. "Coyote" is a daring and exceptional independent movie that is an extraordinary bold first-time feature. And that's not hyperbole. It's a movie was willing to take the concept and story in a direction that very few would and where the experimentation in style and genre crossbreeding paid off, in making something unique in the world of DIY indie films. The production quality is top notch as the cinematography is simply stunning along with great use of lights and music. Then of course, there is the incredible performance by Bill Oberst Jr. -- though that's not to discredit the other actors, such as Victoria Mullen, who also did a great job. However with Bill Oberst being the primary focus and putting on amazing performance, he pretty much stole the show.
I am not sure how much of an audience there is or will be for "Coyote" because the movie is so many things and there isn't much you can say that could prepare anyone for when they watch it. It will find it's audience, big or small, and will appreciate what Trevor has put together. Call me a fan, because I'm looking forward to what he does next.