The Bag Man (2005) – By Duane L. Martin

I was contacted out of the blue a short time ago and asked if I’d like to review this indie film called The Bag Man
for the magazine. Being the extremely cool guy (and unsufferable
screener whore) that I am, of course I said that I’d love to review
their movie. What a mistake that was! This thing was the biggest piece
of cr… Nah, I’m just kidding. Actually, this turned out to be a very
nicely put together, nicely written and all around enjoyable and fun
film, and the filmmakers should be very proud of what they accomplished.

The basic story is not an uncommon one. There’s a nerdy guy named
Walter who basically gets walked on by life. He works in a video store,
his roommate is a colossal dork who somehow still manages to score with
tons of women and the only girl that Walter is really interested in
looks at him like he’s something she’d wipe off her shoe. So what’s a
fellow to do? Well how about becoming a serial killer? Yeah, that’ll
work. But how? How can someone who’s let life walk all over them gain
the skills necessary to become a serial killer? With a little help from
and old pro… Jackie the Ripper.

Now I know what you’re asking yourself. You’re thinking, "Isn’t that
supposed to be Jack the Ripper?" Well obviously you’ve swallowed the
line that the authorites fed everyone. The fact is, it was actually
Jackie the Ripper, and yes, she was in fact a girl. The thing is, the
police couldn’t deal with being outsmarted by a girl, so they called
the killer Jack and let everyone believe it was a man. There, you see?
Now you know the truth. Don’t you feel better? I know I sure do!

Anyway, so Walter goes on this killing spree. Well actually, it wasn’t
much of a killing spree since the first eight people who died all ended
up killing themselves. Jeez, it’s just so hard to break into the serial
killer biz isn’t it? Well, it gets worse. Turns out that all the people
that died, and the ones he actually did eventually kill were all bad
guys, and suddenly that made him famous as a heroic vigilante. Sheesh!
What’s a guy gotta do to get any respect as an honest serial killer?

Eventually he discovers that a girl who had been his friend and best
bud for years actually loves him. And that’s even after she found out
that he was trying to be a serial killer! So anyway, I won’t spoil the
ending, but let’s just say that things sorta worked out for him, but
also sorta didn’t. You’ll just have to watch it and find out.

What I liked about this movie is how well it flowed. I see so many
indie filmmakers who can’t seem to get the flow and the pacing right.
Things seem to jump around, or there are scenes that don’t need to be
there, or missing scenes that should have been there to complete the
story, but this film doesn’t suffer from that at all. It feels like a
well thought out and very complete film. It’s got humor and a sense of
surrealness that keep you glued to it. The characters are all well done
and have individual personalities as well. You don’t feel in the
dialogue like it was all just written by one person and different
people are reciting it. That however does bring me to one of the things
I didn’t really like about the movie. It’s a small thing though, so
don’t worry about it too much.

Basically, it’s a problem that many indie films like this suffer from,
but in this film it varies in how bad it is. The problem is how the
dialogue is delivered. A lot
of the dialogue in this movie sounds like people are just reciting
words that they memorized for the scene. The problem with that is
two-fold. First off, it doesn’t sound very natural, and second, people
write differently than they talk. So when people recite dialogue that
was written word for word, it brings us back to problem one, which is
that it doesn’t feel natural at all. Now that’s not to say that all the
dialogue in this film comes out like that, because it doesn’t. At
times, and coming from various people, it sounds just fine, but much of
it sounds recited, and I think in some ways that detracts a little from
the overall quality of the film. Still, there’s
almost a certain charm to dialogue delivered in that manner, and in a
film like this, it kinda works in an odd sort of a way.

There’s one other problem that I had with this film as well, and that’s
the music. The soundtrack was mostly a rockin’ kind of a thing, but it
never changed. There were scenes that could have been tense, and yet
there they are with this weird out of place sounding rock music playing
over them that totally destroyed the feel and the mood. Also, there
were times where the music was mixed in too hot, and suddenly you go
from quiet dialogue to suddenly being deluged with this ear blasting
music. The music should reflect the mood of a scene, and unfortunately
the music in this movie often times just didn’t.

The DVD comes in a special edition two disc set. The first disc
contains the movie itself, which is in widescreen and looks extremely
nice. The video quality is excellent, and the sound levels on the
dialogue are generally quite good as well. The second disc contains the
special features, including a blooper reel, a casting featurette, a
photo slideshow, some previews and a bonus short film. All in all it’s
very nicely done and there’s a lot of great stuff here.

I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but I’m happy to say that I
was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this film a lot. There’s a
whole sub-genre of indie films like this one, that sort of have the
same kind of a look and feel to them, but this one really shines when
compared to the rest. The editing was well done, the story was there
and the humor worked quite well, which is probably one of the toughest
things to do on film. I mean you can kick someone in the groin before a
dramatic scene and get them to cry for the shot, but doing comedy, and
especially making that comedy work and actually be funny on the screen,
that’s a lot more difficult. Sure a lot of it was "stupid" funny, but I
happen to like "stupid" funny, and I’m sure a lot of you out there will
find this film as enjoyable as I did.

If you’d like to find out more about this film or if you’d like to pick
up a copy for yourself, you can check out the Prescribed Films website
at http://www.prescribedfilms.com.