Skip to content

PBIFF ’14 Review – “Menthol”

April 11, 2014

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.13.38 PMThis was a bit of a depressing scenario, this film was screening around 9pm, I arrive, and I’m literally the ONLY ONE IN HOUSE! So there I am, all alone, no one around, watching a movie about a bunch of reckless post-high school pals, getting into trouble, smoking weed, drinking, and talking about John Williams music, for a total of an 80 min runtime. The plot garnered my attention, as I went through the festival guide, the poster reads, from the Producers of “Boyz in the Hood”, so I figured, what the heck, could be good. To this day, after seeing it nearly a week ago, I’m still perplexed about “Menthol”.

Set in the ‘burbs of Valencia, CA, Roth (Lucas Elliot Eberl), John (Johnny Wactor), Mark, (James Wilson), and Peter (Jacob King) all old high school buddies reunite on one particular day. Roth returns home after visiting his dad, Roth shares his wide-eyed excitement about his new DSLR camera with John. John decides to get the gang back together, but not before stopping to retrieve a pack of cigarettes, only one available are menthols, John doesn’t smoke menthols. The day goes from conversational pieces involving 9/11 conspiracies to figuring out how the John Williams Superman score goes. A friend of the gangs is throwing a party, the night turns sour however after the boys get involved with a grisly accident…

You know, it just hit me, this movie is paying homage to David Lynch, at least I think it is. No wait…maybe Darren Aronofsky, no…you know what, I’m still confused. Then again, when you’re watching a [David] Lynch film, most of the time you walk out with conflicted feelings of hate, regret, and a whole lot of confusion. “Menthol” literally ends with a giant question mark, and for me that can be frustrating. It doesn’t note on the crucial opening scene, which I found to be one of the best, realistic drug-induced reactions in a film, probably since “Requiem for a Dream”.

Be that as it may, the biggest issue I’m having with “Menthol” is the message it’s trying to convey. Is it that we live in such a harsh reality, can necessary evils or neutral evils coexist? The movie jumps around from scenario to scenario, with these long winded conversational scenes about essentially…nothing, think an extremely drab extended episode of “Seinfeld”. On a symbiotic level I was able to connect to these scenes, because in a lot of ways, Roth’s friends remind me of some of my own, mostly the ones I’ve made down here in South Florida. The John Williams scene is literally ripped out from a page of my life, I know I’ve had that conversation before.

The one thing to take away from this movie is the feat it’s accomplished. This is a true blue micro-budget short film, with a crew of maybe 20+ people, shot on DSLR prosumer cameras. It’s being done every day, and it’s only a matter of time, before it becomes the official norm in independent filmmaking, and in a lot of ways it kind of is. I got that sense from Roth’s character, and his (what looked like) Canon T2i.


Aaron Shore, is a contributing blogger for the film sites of Hudak on Hollywood & Midnight Reviews.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DoubleAAProd

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: