Coyote (2013) – By Misty Layne

Written and directed by Trevor Juenger, Coyote is a surreal look into the broken mind of mentally disturbed writer, Bill (Bill Oberst, Jr.) as he chronicles his nightmares and hallucinations. Compulsive insomnia drives Bill over the edge of sanity as his aggressive behavior evolves into a sadistic rampage. Juenger states in his press kit, “Coyote is the culmination of intense efforts by a very select crew. It’s been a two year journey for me from my initial concept writings to the final edit and audio mix. I couldn’t be happier with Oberst’s performance, Walters’ cinematography, or Schiralli’s score which do nothing but enhance my bizarre sensibilities as a writer/director. It’s raw, shocking, and has a mind of its own. It’s certainly not for all audiences, but I think it resonates well with its niche.” His statement is dead on.

I’ve watched a lot of art house movies over the year. I’ve watched a lot of horror. I’ve watched a lot of psychological thrillers, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Troma. I’ve seen many things I’ve wished I could unsee. Coyote is a terrific mix of all of things. If you took Lynch’s oddly dreamy and sometimes nightmare inducing oddness, Cronenberg’s societal statements hidden under unusual and far out scenarios and Troma’s pure balls to the wall WTF?, and then threw in some Jacob’s Ladder for good measure, then you’d have a good idea of what watching Coyote is like. For a good measure of the movie, I simply sat there fascinated by what I was seeing. The images start small with their creep factor (a typewriter moving on its own) and gradually get larger and larger (Bill seeing himself in the mirror with a gigantic fly’s head and later on a close-up of what appears to be a vagina oozing black goo and then even later on, Bill being painfully hurt by his knife-penis).

I’m almost at a loss on what to say or how to describe this film, which is a rarity for me (good job, guys!!). The plot was a little hard to follow at times due to the blending of reality and non-reality and the use of flashbacks. You’re never quite sure where in time or space you’re standing when it comes to this movie. Bill is a writer but at the beginning it seems that he’s been in some sort of trouble as he’s writing to assure someone that he is now doing fine. For a while, he has a job as a mover and eventually he starts a relationship with a woman, all the while writing. But in between the moments of relative normality (or at least as normal as it gets for Bill), he’s slowly losing his mind till the film culminates in a complete mind fuck. I’m not even entirely sure what happened on screen was happening “in real time” or if Bill was actually dead the whole time and in some sort of personal hell. This film definitely leaves itself open to interpretation.

Bill Oberst as Bill steals the film and you never doubt for a moment that this man is falling deep down the rabbit’s hole of his own mind. His performance is impeccable and never once does he go over the top, which would be all too easy to do in a film like this. And of course, kudos goes to Juenger for the script which is mind-blowingly entertaining, fucked up and at times beautiful. A slow ride to hell couldn’t be made better for this. One other note is the score composed by Michel Schiralli is to die for.

As Juenger said himself, this film isn’t for everyone but if you’re fond of art house and films that don’t lay it all out for you in the first five minutes, films that require your thought and sometimes your squeamishness, then definitely give this one a look. Brilliantly mental, it’s a beautifully nightmarish look at psychosis that will leave you thinking and looking over your shoulder in fear. If you want to find out more about Coyote, visit their blog for updates, how the film was made, and to have a look at the cast and crew plus more.