Back in 2001 I was a full-time student at Marywood University in Scranton, PA and majoring in Radio/Television Broadcasting. Among many of the talented and eccentric people that I met there, there was one gentleman that everyone believed would hit it big, namely Chris Ell. To make a long story short, I ended up completing a full year at Marywood before discovering that going back for another two semesters was financially impossible. Soon after my departure from Marywood, I began losing touch with everyone, save for one good friend I had made along the way: my buddy Jay Malecki. During one of our last conversations before he left for Florida (where he’s still currently living and working), Jay mentioned that future cinematic genius Chris Ell had made an outstanding student film called my enemy. Jay managed to snag me a copy and I purchased the DVD from him for five dollars, and let me tell you, it was five dollars that was well spent!
my enemy begins when a young man named Jacob (John Fasulo) awakens in his college dorm room with a killer headache. After he pops a few pills, he goes for a stroll around campus and soon discovers that everyone is gone. The entire Marywood campus is empty, but why?! Things quickly grow worse for poor Jacob as he begins to get excruciating headaches (which usually lead to blackouts and strange flashbacks), but the worst is yet to come. During his continuing search for his fellow students and faculty members, Jacob runs afoul of a dark and shadowy creature. Within moments, Jacob is running for his life from the mysterious humanoid that is apparently hell-bent on killing him. Eventually Jacob manages to arm himself and a showdown begins between man and beast in a secluded woodland setting.
It is here that we get hit with the ultimate truth about Jacob and his strange predicament: Jacob is currently in a coma, induced by the terminal brain cancer that has afflicted him. What the audience has seen thus far is just Jacob running around in a world created by his mind. And that pesky and seemingly unkillable beastie that’s chasing Jacob is the brain cancer personified! It wants to kill Jacob in order to end its own miserable existence, but Jake is not ready to give up yet. In the film’s final moments, Jacob uses all the willpower his mind can muster (and a handgun) to defeat the malignant monster that was growing within his head. After his ordeal, he awakens from his coma, with his entire life ahead of him. (Damn it! I wanted the monster to win! If this had been an Asian film, this would’ve had a tragic and/or a possibly horrific and disturbing climax!)
my enemy is an incredibly well-done student film and keeps you on the edge of your seat. During my first viewing of the film, I didn’t know what to expect. At first I thought that Chris Ell (who not only directed the film, but wrote it) had made an Omega Man type film, but as the story unraveled I was pleasantly surprised at the little twists and turns he threw in. As far as acting goes, John Fasulo was good as the lead character, but I think he was slightly miscast. Perhaps Chris Ell wanted his lead to be an unlikely hero, but I personally would’ve preferred seeing a tougher-looking guy in the starring role. Richard Plishka portrayed the "Creature" in the film and its definitely his role that takes this student film up a notch. Richard clearly had fun playing the bad guy and actually made his monstrous character seem threatening.
However, I think that Chris should’ve kept the Creature in the shadows for the entire length of the film. Once the monster steps out into broad daylight, he isn’t half as menacing, but again, Rich Plishka’s acting helps make up for that. A few more things that this short film gets high marks for are its special visual and sound effects. There’s a nifty scene in the film where the villain is knocked from a balcony and ends up crashing to the floor below, seemingly to his doom. With the use of some nifty effects and reversed footage, the beast pulls its broken body back together and continues its hunt for Jacob! All in all, this first time effort is a damned good one and I hope that Chris Ell has continued his work in film. If my enemy is any indication of Chris’ talent, then I think he’ll make it big in the film world!
my enemy is available on DVD from Ellfire Productions (www.ellfireproductions.com). The disc is playable worldwide and features a nice 2.40:1 Widescreen transfer with 2.0 Dolby Digital Sound. There’s also a multitude of special features on the DVD, including audio commentaries by the cast, director Chris Ell, and producer Mark Ruddy, a well-made behind the scenes featurette entitled "Making an Enemy," several outtakes, an image gallery, a movie trailer for the film, and lastly the director’s shooting script! If you get the chance to see my enemy, then by all means watch it! Calling it a student film seems like an insult because this is a well-made and well polished production that hopefully won’t fade into obscurity! Come on and crank out another film soon Chris because I want to see what else you’re capable of!