First off, I just want to say thanks to Eros D’Antona, writer and director of the independent Crime/Comedy film “Insane”. I appreciate you allowing me access to an online screener for review purposes. This is a low-budget film that was shot between Apulia, Italy, and Los Angeles, California. It’s a quirky crime/comedy inspired by the likes of Tarantino. The story centers on Frank (played by Alex Lucchesi), who used to work for the mafia and tried to get out. Katia ( Crisula Stafida), has taken over the family business and is looking to see Frank pay for his betrayal. While he waits in a small town in Southern Italy, Katia recruits Condom, (yes that’s his name haha, played flamboyantly by Roberto D’Antona), a sadomasochist and all around psychopath, who in turn, enlists the help of his loyal right hand man Adam (Ivan King), to kill Frank. A bloodbath is imminent, when Frank decides the only way to truly move on, is to stop running and stay and fight. The film also stars Mirko D’Antona, Gianluca Busco, Steven Renso, Zac Zanghellini and Linda Hand. I came across this film while looking up information on another from Italy called “Beautiful People”. This one’s got some cool poster artwork too, and contains a couple of the same actors from the aforementioned, so I thought I’d check it out.
Eros has made a handful of short films but Insane is his first full length feature, and for someone lacking experience behind the camera, he does it pretty well. It’s difficult not to make comparisons between this one, and some of Robert Rodriguez’s early work (Desperado) and Tarantino’s style of raw and dark dialogue. The action in those films is mostly subtle and the suspense, usually built through that clever dialogue. Unfortunately that takes a very creative mind and some great writing, and I’m not sure that many people have that kind of skill. Not only does it take a lot of know-how, it takes money to pull it off too, something Insane doesn’t have a lot of. Let’s start with some of the technical stuff here. The audio track is great. I have to admit when I started watching, I couldn’t help but think it was a little to perfect. I’m almost sure that a fair portion of the dialogue was re-dubbed and edited in the studio. I apologize if I’m wrong, it’s just very well executed for such a low-budget film. There isn’t anything wrong with re-recording audio, it’s just most directors try to make it work during shooting. All of the camera work and most of the framing looked impressive. Eros used a lot of smart shot choices and simple movements, a lot of nice mood lighting helped set the tone.
Smart choices were made in relation to the diverse music and score, which were really quirky and fit the light-hearted nature of some particular scenes. I can’t quite put my finger on the type of vibe I got from it, but it felt very eccentric. The editing and transitions between scenes were fluent as well. The film probably would have worked just as well if a few of the unnecessary scenes were cut. In fact, they didn’t even need to be cut, just shortened here and there. The action isn’t all that impressive though and considering the core details involve the mafia, I expected a much more brutal approach. That aside, some of the on-screen effects we do get to see looked alright, but the inconsistency in the color of the blood stood out a bit. A couple of the torture sequences might make you squirm, so there’s a bit of fun to be had there.
Some of the things I’m about to cover are somewhat understandable issues, considering I’d estimate the budget for to be somewhere between $20,000- $50,000 (but don’t quote me on that), and that’s not a great deal of money. Unfortunately, that repetitive forceful comedic sound effect that get’s used several times, doesn’t fit this type of film. Several gestured outbursts from Condom (pardon the pun haha), sounded like something you’d hear in a bad sitcom. Several scenes would have been much more realistic with the inclusion of a few extras, in order to make it seem like it was actually set in the real world. One near the beginning in LA, as well as the fight scene on the street towards the end of the film. I understand it can be hard to get numbers, and some people won’t do it just to help someone out. Some of the dialogue helps in advancing the story, but some of the other strange and perverse sexual stuff just feels awkward. I get that Condom is a sadomasochist, but he spends a sizable amount of screen-time talking about fantasies of his mum and getting a local whore to relieve him. I know it’s probably just an outward release to show audiences how loopy he really is (haha), but something got lost in translation, maybe it’s the language barrier I don’t know.
Most of the acting is decent, though it’s hard to tell which characters are supposed to be overly campy and which ones aren’t. The little guy in the beginning of the film (can’t remember his name), tried to play the tough guy and fell short. I’m assuming it was supposed to be for comedic purposes, but he wasn’t funny nor was he serious enough to be menacing. I was disappointed that other than mentioning Frank’s name, he had no bearing on anything else that happened throughout the film. Same goes for the two cops we get introduced to, while in their car in the very opening scene. They go in, question the little guy and then nothing is ever mentioned again until the very end, it seemed completely contrived considering they have no bearing on anything that happened. They are supposed to be investigating some guys they knew that were killed, weren’t they?? Maybe I missed something while jotting down notes. The biggest issue I had with Insane was the sequencing, and amount of information you have to try to retain in such a short time. Here’s what I did get. Frank’s Uncle (Davide Gambarini), must have been one of the head’s of the crime family. Frank fell in love with a woman, which according to the boss, was a big no-no. Uncle kills said woman, and now Frank wants to exact his revenge. Problem is that there’s never a confrontation with the Uncle, Is he already dead?, Is he in hiding?? who knows. To make things more confusing, Frank lives with a guy and his boy, who I’m guessing are his brother and possibly his nephew??, but again that’s just a guess. I may have missed something but it’s a hell of a lot to take in, when it’s not spelt out for you.
Then there’s Katia. It’s established that she is the new head of the family, not sure how or why?? And I’m also not sure what happen to the original head of the family. Anyways, she gets another family member (guy in beginning, don’t know who he was either), to recruit Condom to find Frank. I’m assuming Condom must be part of the syndicate, but living and operating out of Los Angeles. So he jumps on a plane and ends up in Italy, where he meets up with Adam. Apparently, Adam is Condom’s right hand man (pardon the pun, if that is one.. not sure haha), yet he acts like he’s never met the guy before. If they were so close and worked together, wouldn’t they both have been in LA??. There are a bunch of other secondary characters at a sort of brothel, I don’t think they had any real reasoning to be there, other than to make up the numbers. Honestly, out of all these characters I didn’t like a single one. Sadly, when there’s no one to care about, it doesn’t make for good viewing. Roberto played his part with a lot of personality, at times he was funny, an other moments creepy, I commend him on a decent job. It was just a very off the wall character that I couldn’t get invested in. Eros got a bunch of people together that were passionate about the project, and he makes the most of the small sets and a simple story. With that in mind, it seems like a very messy result for something, that in hindsight is quite simple.
I really wanted to like Insane, I tried hard. It drops you straight in the deep end and it’s pretty fast paced. The camera work, audio and performances are all pretty good, given experience and budget. Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of different locations in a very short space of time, along with way to many secondary characters that come and go without explanation as to who they are or how they fit into the story. I had trouble relating to anyone, or remembering who they were in relation to the family or the story. I don’t know if it’s something that got lost in the language barrier (half is in Italian) or just average writing. In my opinion, Insane needed to deliver the action that it hinted at early on, plus a much clearer narrative and plot structure. The core idea was there, the execution on the other hand was not. If you can stick with it, you may find something in this one that I didn’t. Thanks again Eros, I look forward to future projects and I’m sure you will continue to improve!
My rating for “Insane” is 4/10