Having lived in the south for the entirety of my life, I can testify that the culture is rather bizarre. It’s the small things that often differentiate us from the rest of American culture. Numerous words that are a part of our daily lexicon sound completely foreign to Northern ears. Still, for as beautiful as this culture can be, there is some truth to the stereotypical presentation of the "redneck." Although the South does have burgeoning liberal art communities and many intellectual pursuits that one could seek out if they so choose, there are those of us who instead focus on drinking beer, raising hell, and holding racist/ignorant views. Ignorant people live in all areas, but the "redneck" has become a national whipping boy in terms of stupidity. This is where Ashes to Ashes comes into play. This short film from Kenny Garner and Wynn Reichert is built upon the foundation of Southern stupidity at its most brazen. Relying heavily on stereotypes and over-the-top scenarios, Ashes to Ashes might target a rather select audience.
Our story focuses on a family of rednecks who are devastated to find that their "Memaw" (grandma) has passed away. When dealing with her death, they run into a roadblock: there are a lot of expenses to pay when someone dies! They decide that their best deal is to pay $499 to have her cremated, but unfortunately they don’t even have that. So, after dropping Memaw off for her cremation (even giving away a pack of Memaw’s favorite cigarettes to be cremated with her), the group have to find some way to get Memaw’s ashes back from the funeral home. Will they come up with the necessary money, or will there prove to be another way?
Ashes to Ashes is about as simple a short film as anyone could ask for. There is a clear and concise narrative that takes us from beginning to end without any unnecessary filler. We are introduced to our characters, their plight, and the obstacles that stand in their way, all in a very quick manner. The entire goal for the film is not to introduce us to this situation, but instead introduce us to the wacky characters who make up the movie. They are not exactly well-crafted, and they are very crude by their very nature, but the audience expects them to be this way. The overly exaggerated Southern accents are enough to tell the audience what this movie has in store. Yet, for all of the over-the-top humor, the characters are occasionally endearing within their stupidity. While it is surely very painful to hear so much talk about moonshine and boobies, there are moments of charisma that shine through and help make the project memorable. Ultimately, mileage will certainly vary with this one. If you are a self identifying redneck, then this movie may be for you. At sixteen minutes in length, it certainly can’t hurt to give it a shot. If you’re interested, you can read more about the project via the official Facebook page.