Raven Banner Entertainment distributes low budget films – usually horror flicks or flicks with an edge. STEGMAN IS DEAD falls into the latter category, with violence and some foul language thrown in for good measure despite the film’s protagonist being a family man.
A family man with a past crime background, to be more accurate. He has ‘successfully’ completed a heist in which he had accidentally killed two security guards. His boss, Don (Michael Ironside) has cleaned up everything but unfortunately all the cleanup was recorded on tape which has been stole by Stegman who is now blackmailing him.
The film attracted attention well before its release, with two nominations at the Golden Trailer Awards in LA, an Award Of Excellence at the IndieFest 2017 Film Awards in the US and a surprising “market premiere” at the Cannes Film Festival programmed by Telefilm Canada as one of their six favourite films of 2017.
Director Hyde focuses the film on a single location (Stegman’s home/studio) and created a colourful array of criminals, each with their own distinct “style.” There are twenty-one speaking roles include a bumbler named Lars (Arne MacPherson), a sadistic Russian named Sergei (David Lawrence Brown), a psycho “terminator” named Kruger (Stephen Eric McIntyre) and a mystery-woman named Evy (Bernice Liu).
This follows Diane’s family, a deceptively pleasant, aging lot of retired criminals who want to give her struggling husband Gus, a leg up. The father and daughter – the leads of the story – are members of a clan that goes back generations. They revere the fact that they are thieves. They live in an offbeat culture that exists outside normal society. ‘My dad taught me how to steal wallets, I’m teaching my daughter how to steal wall
When the film opens, Mike is in front of his house. The voiceover informs that he is about to rob his own house. But the police have been to the house first. He is to recover the tapes that will save his hide and his marriage.
STEGMAN IS DEAD is confidently put together by director, writer and cast who clearly exhibits confidence. The trouble with confidence is that the film comes out as too smug for tis own good. A bit more humility will result in flaws being identified and perhaps corrected.
The film’s dialogue ranges from funny to fair. His wife warns him:”If you don’t bring back the bacon, you do not get the sausage.” Or an old guys saying: “No ore tension, now with pension.” But the film occasionally hits the laughter jackpot as in one scene where everyone at gathering is forced to lie on the ground. The wife of an elderly tells him, “Keep your arms together”, as he has difficulty going down to the floor.
The film’s setting is Middle America with its low income residences, old cars and dirty roads. It sold remembered though that this is a Canadian movie.
STEGMAN IS DEAD is not a bad film, efficiently put together with a confident cast and crew. It contains occasional surprises but one has to watch out for them. There is one good thing to say about this film – it has spirit! The film has a limited engagement at the Carlton Cinemas, again a small venue for small budget films and gems.