- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit?

Also known as:
Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit

Year: 2012

Genre: Independent / Comedy / Science Fiction / Drama

Language: English

Runtime: 94 min

Director: Mark Jeavons

Writer: Mark Jeavons


Pete Blaggit has hit rock bottom; the videography business his father started is being phased out by modern technology, his wife has left him, nobody likes him and constantly battles his addiction to alcohol and pain pills. Truly things could not get any worse for Pete. Things could get stranger, however, and they do after Pete finds an alien in his ex-wife refrigerator. Soon Pete is suffering from delusions and is seeing things that might or might not be there and soon finds himself on a journey that bends the fabric of space and time. For Pete, he'll realize that there's no place like home.

Our thoughts:
I've had "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" sitting on my shelf for awhile now due to some unfortunate distribution situations in which a review was suppose to coincide with the release that, for a time, never came. The worst part is that for Mark Jeavons and his movie, "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit", suffered the all too familiar fate of independent movies where they are jerked around by distributors. After many delays and eventually being dropped, Mark self-distributed his movie. As a result, my reviewing of the movie became shelved after waiting with each delay until I moved on entirely. Which turns out may have been for the better as I didn't actually like "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" the first time I watched it. After returning to finally review it and knowing full well what to expect going into the movie, I found some things worth appreciating that I missed that first time around.

Pete Blagmore, or Pete Blaggit as some like to call him, is a down on his luck videographer. The business his father started and then gave to Pete and his brother was booming -- there were always weddings to be filmed for the Blagmore brothers. Then technology came around and soon Pete's business was being phased out. If that wasn't bad enough, Pete's wife has left him while he battles his depression, addiction to pain pills and an ever growing debt. Then something happens…After discovering a baby alien living in his ex-wife's refrigerator, Pete begins experiencing many bizarre things: seeing strange creatures, dimensional vortexes appearing at random places and even being abducted by aliens. Is he seeing the world from a different perspective or has the depression finally driven Pete mad?

Outside of the very unusual sci-fi elements in the movie, that first time I watched "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" I did not like it at all. Fundamentally because the whole point of the movie is to follow the journey of Pete Blaggit and his sort of redemption. The problem is that when we are introduced to Pete he's at his lowest and is obviously a rather unscrupulous character. As the movie progresses, we, the audience, realize more and more just how awful of a person this character Pete actually is. So much so you don't feel he deserves to be redeemed and should have to deal with the suffering that unfolds in his life.

It's a sentiment that still rang true when I went back into the movie but I found myself less angry with the movie and the character. Pete Blaggit is a horrible person and you get to realize just how horrible he is through out the movie but there is a sad reality to the character. He's the result of a selfish decisions and the consequences of those decisions; it's easy to dismiss Pete and have no empathy for his plight. However, by the end, you can find yourself hoping that Pete is able to find that second chance he desires because he comes across as real. I guess you can accredit it to both the writing and the performance of the character, but the fact that Pete is believable, it becomes very easy to hate him and extremely difficult to like him, let alone hope that things turns out for the better for Pete. Yet, somehow, you do. Even with all of the unforgivable things Pete does, there are bits to him that become relatable. We all have that one moment where we wish we could go back and do it again, and this time, do it right.

The one thing that has not changed since the first time I watched "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" is the appreciation for the creativity in the story and how it was made. Pete's storyline carries the drama of the movie but the rest is an entertaining blend of dark-comedy and science-fiction. The movie does an excellent job of toying with its own reality and making you question if what Pete is experiencing is real or not. The delusions and hallucinations are equal parts amusing, terrifying and occasionally just flat out strange. Whether it's Eugene (Blagmore) seeing a cyberpunk version of the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" sitting in his living room -- which then says, "Dead babies! Nom! Nom! Nom!" -- or Pete giving birth to an alien baby, the movie has a definite way of capturing your attention with entertaining results.

"Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" is a good but flawed movie where I genuinely wish I liked it more than I do. The movie has a great ambition to it that's supported by a solid story featuring a well blended mix of comedy, drama and science-fiction. The sci-fi element in particular was well executed finding a way of incorporating everything from monsters to aliens and even time travel without burring the other aspects of the movie. What ultimately hurts the movie, for me, is that almost all of the characters are unlikeable. Not just Pete. Most of the characters are unsympathetic which is what caused my disliking of the "Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit" the first time around. Going back, however, I can appreciate how believable Pete comes across but still, I found that the characters made it hard to become fully involved with the movie. That could just be me though.

Positive things:
- Good story and a nice mix of genres.
- Excellent science-fiction element.
- Shot on film!
- An interesting style where the budgeted effects added some charm to the movie.
- The Pete Blaggit character, while unlikeable, was well written and well performed.

Negative things:
- Most, if not all, of the characters are unlikeable.
- Some of the humor was a miss.
- The FX in a scene that involves an eye and a knife.

Gore: 1.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 2/5

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