Title: Reel-Illusionary Zone

Also known as:

Year: 2008

Genre: Independent / Experimental / Comedy / Horror

Language: English

Runtime: 90 min

Director: John Hartman

Writer: John Hartman

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1352776/

A toy maker in Toyland has to go to the real world and bring back the toys that escaped from him. To get to the real world, they first have to get through the horrific reel-illusionary zone!

Our thoughts:
John Hartman's "Planet Diva" was short enough to get through, and it certainly helped that it was made from love of film - even though it wasn't an easy watch. With "Reel-Illusionary Zone", an earlier movie, there was none of that available to help the experience. 10 minutes into the film, I was ready to throw my hands in the air and say "fuck it". Let it be known that I had 80 min more to get through, and I nearly shut down Film Bizarro to escape my horrible fate. But I didn't - I knew I had to warn my dear readers, and took a bullet for the team.

Toys are revolting the toy maker in Toyland, and head for the real world. To get there, they have to pass through the bizarre reel-illusionary zone. And you know what they say about the reel-illusionary zone! His toys go on this journey and doing so they turn human. The movie is constructed to pay tribute to many of the old films, being show on super 8, going for an expressionist style and with title cards instead of dialogue. It's very trippy and the mish-mash of characters, styles and scenery changes prove once again that John Hartman's main love is film. The flirting with classic cinema and German expressionism especially is very much present, from the story and several scene setups.

Unfortunately the movie is insanely boring. It feels as if everyone involved were as unserious about making the film as the characters were silly. There are moments that could look pretty interesting when paused due to the colors, the super 8-grit and various experiments. But as soon as you play the film, it instantly is too much. The music is too generic, the camera-handling is all over the place and the same goes for the editing. The actors and characters are equally careless about what they are doing.

It's hard for me to care about a movie when it doesn't seem like anyone involved cared. John Hartman might love movies, but it seems to me that his second interest isn't filmmaking but actually playing around with friends. There is nothing wrong with that, I'm glad people are having fun while they are making movies - and filmmaking shouldn't always be the most serious business in the world. But in the case of this one, it was a total waste of an hour and a half. I don't find myself entertained by watching a group of adults play with swords, and I require a bit more from my comedy too.

There is a crowd out there for this one - there's a crowd for almost every movie. I can enjoy a lot of independent/no-budget films, but this one bored me to no end. It's just random ideas put together into a torturous 90 min feature, executed without care and skill. At least I can say that they improved with their film "Planet Diva" - mostly because they made it a short film. Avoid this movie unless you literally enjoy everything I said I don't like about it.

Positive things:
- John Hartman loves movies, and you can tell from several of his homages.
Negative things:
- I couldn't find anything that I specifically liked about the movie. It's boring and seems to be done purely to have fun on set rather than make a movie. I couldn't find much in this movie when the filmmakers didn't seem to care themselves.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0.5/5
Story: 1/5
Effects: 1/5
Comedy: 2/5

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