Waking up from another drug fueled bender, Danny comes to the decision he cannot live the life style he is living anymore and wants to try and get clean. This news comes as a devastating blow to his brother, Nicky, who is quite happy with their decadent life style but he makes a deal with Danny: if Danny helps get Nicky a fix that morning, then he will help Danny get sober. It's this deal that makes things go from bad to worse for Danny soon as things start spiraling out of control with ill-timed visits from his ex-girlfriend, whom Danny desperately wants to win back, to dead bodies and nightmarish hallucinations.
I'm no expert when it comes to Adam Mason's filmography as I haven't seen everything he's done, but I've always considered him an interesting director. Turning out a rather mean-spirited 'torture' film with "Broken", a less than typical horror movie with "The Devil's Chair" that featured probably one of the best endings in a movie that came out that year and, of course, the technical-experiment that is "Pig". It seems he's been turning out horror movies pretty regularly since 2001. However, Mason and his long-time collaborator, Simon Boyes, step out of the horror realm and into dark-comedy territory with the psychological film "Junkie".
Waking up from another black-out bender, Danny decides that today is the day he is finally going to get sober. His brother, Nicky, whom is also a fellow junkie, isn't exactly enthusiastic over this decision or even supportive. However, Nicky makes a deal with Danny that if he gets the local drug dealer, Otto, over that morning so Nicky can get his fix, he'll help Danny on his road to recovery. A deal that leads to Danny's day going from bad to worse as he ends up having to deal with dead bodies, his ex-girlfriend coming over -- while Danny attempts to win her back -- and his father stopping by with his latest wife. It seems as though Danny picked the worst day to try and get cleaned up.
Psychological movies seem fairly bland these days because they are almost always about a character's descent into madness. Perhaps it's because if they show the main character going from normal to crazy, it'll some how lend itself to have a greater emotional level for the viewers to attach to. Adam Mason's "Junkie" breaks away from that cliché by introducing us to a character who has already descended into madness. Danny's life has obviously spiraled out of control and we get to meet him when he is at rock bottom -- a man who sees no future unless he gets clean.
"Junkie" also approaches its material in a different manner; there is a strong emotional element to the story that progresses over the film's runtime but it also breaks the monotony of addiction themed movies by being genuinely funny. Sure, the humor is blacker than a coal miner's ass but "Junkie" still has fun with the material. Whether it's with Danny having to deal with his brother, Nicky, who wants nothing more than to get high while Danny wants to get sober -- Nicky also manages to make things go from bad to worse for Danny on a fairly regular basis -- or Danny having to deal with a zombie drug dealer wandering around his house while Charles Manson sits in his basement. Oh, and did I forget to mention Nicky trying to cook the blood of a dead junkie-drug dealer? No, I'm sure I would have mentioned that, oh yes…
And while I did appreciate the stark humor "Junkie" had and how it allowed the movie feel less tedious than it would have if it had been completely serious. Like I said though, there is an emotional element to the movie and the fact that there is humor and drama in "Junkie" is what makes it such a solid film. It's interesting how the movie gets the viewer invested in both the emotion and the character Danny since we see him at his lowest point. Instead of needless expository dialogue explaining why things or characters are the way they are, it's actually shown to us. Instead of the usual frivolous hallucinations designed to make the movie "odd" or "trippy", the back story for Danny is explained through each of his nightmarish breakdowns, such as why he had a falling out with his girlfriend -- the biggest piece of Danny's shattered life.
However, it wouldn't be an Adam Mason movie if he didn't throw a curve ball in there and much like his movie, "The Devil's Chair", the story we're seeing may not actually be the real story. Now in this day and age where "twist endings" are a dime a dozen -- and I certainly wouldn't call the ending in "Junkie" a twist ending -- saying, the story we're seeing may not be the real story, may sound contrived but it works well for "Junkie". Both Adam and Simon have a clear idea of what the ending is suppose to represent but it's the kind of ending that will mean something else, depending on the viewer. Is "Junkie" about a character finding redemption or could it be considered more of a dark take on "It's Wonderful Life" if that movie was coming off of a three day bender? Or maybe it's just a fucked up story about a junkie? Again, Adam and Simon have their idea but I think the movie is one where it is more up to the personal experience of watching "Junkie".
I thoroughly enjoyed watching "Junkie" and it has become one of my favorite movies directed by Adam Mason. Both he and Simon Boyes created the project based on what was the most possible to make given the time and money they had, and the result was a very well executed movie. It breaks loose from the clichés of psychological and addiction themed movies by pairing a strong emotional story with broad strokes of dark comedy. The performances by both Daniel Louis Rivas and Robert LaSardo couldn't not have been any better and they will help bring the viewers into "Junkie" as much as the bizarre story will. And while I didn't touch on it in the review, the no-budget and low-fi approach to the production really helped in making the movie feel more natural. Instead of being bogged down from over-stylization that would attempt to reflect that of a drug trip. That feeling of a bad trip is still there in the movie but in a much more approachable and believable manner. "Junkie" is a movie that I would actually recommend to most people as it is a case of a movie having something for everyone.