Written and Directed by Erica Summers
Erica Summers gets it.
For any film to work, the story must be plausible and, more than anything else, the characters must be people we can relate to. This is especially true within the indie ranks of film making, considering shoe-string budgets leave no room to gloss over a shaky storyline with a surprise cameo or an eye catching special effect.
Summers’ LOVERBOY excels with these two components.
The story is one we’ve all seen or heard more than once. The dashing young man with the charming facade woos the pretty young woman who is trying to pick up the pieces after a nasty breakup. Oh yeah- Prince Charming is a manipulative psychopath. While the relationship between beauty and the psycho take off, family and friends close to the gal start to see the fella unravel while she thinks she is on Cloud Nine with the perfect guy. When things finally begin to crumble before her eyes, our female protagonist is already in too deep.
Amber Watson plays Lauren, a coffee house employee who shares a home with her two brothers, her used and abused mother and the mother’s boyfriend who seems to do most of his talking with his fists. With enough stress and heartache already on her plate at home, Lauren decides to cut ties with her long-time drug riddled boyfriend Matt (Anthony Michael Marks).
Lauren’s best friend Christina (Heather Webber) drags Lauren to a party to forget about Matt and maybe even find a one-night stand.
Enter Brandon (Jessie LaBorn), a tall and handsome smooth talker who Lauren meets at a party she reluctantly attends. Having vowed off relationships just a few hours earlier, Lauren quickly begins to fall for the new guy who seems to have it all.
Watson shines in her role as Lauren. A beautiful and talented woman, Watson seems destined to have a bright future in front of the camera if she decides to pursue it.
LaBorn fits the mold of the good looking squeaky clean fella we first meet, and while his transformation from Wally Cleaver to a cousin of Patrick Bateman was a little hard to digest at first, he plays the psycho quite well once he really gets going.
Watson and LaBorn play off of each other very nicely and there’s no doubt a lot of that has to do with their working together on Summers’ RAG DOLL. This chemistry comes through well in the finished product here.
Webber aces the role of the best friend Christina. Anyone under twenty-five can relate to this character- a loud mouthed co-worker who oftentimes seems more inclined to party than err on the side of better judgement, it’s a character the audience can relate to.
Marks’ role as the drug addict ex-boyfriend deserves to be acknowledged as well. Marks delivers a stellar performance, very convincing.
Themes such as bullying, abusive relationships and drug use are touched on regularly during the ninety-five minute feature.
There were some questions left unanswered in the film. Lauren’s brother Nate (a solid performance by Robert Lawrence) seems to know plenty about Brandon upon meeting him for the first time in the film, but this is never explained or pushed any further even as Nate tries to convince Lauren that she’s dating a dangerous guy. It seemed like Lauren’s other brother Josh (Vincent Ciraco) was going to be a main co-star in the film at the beginning, but soon seemed to be forgotten about all together. Certainly two things that don’t diminish the film all that much, just minor plot holes in an otherwise solid story.
What really takes this film off the well-worn path of “psycho meets girl, girl falls in love with girl, psycho goes psycho on girl” films is the ending. My favorite thing about this film is the ending- something I cannot share on this review so as not to be a spoiler, but I kid you not when I say I was left with mouth agape when the credits started to roll. Summers boldly takes on a challenge that many directors refuse to, and the gamble pays off in LOVERBOY.
Anytime a super low-budget indie feature length is completed, it’s a feat to be marveled. The fact that this project is so tight and consistent throughout is a true testament to Summers’ love for the craft. With solid production value (cinematography, editing and a fantastic music arrangement put together by Cris Williams were true highlights), excellent use of candle wax and an excellent conclusion, LOVERBOY is a solid installment in Summers’ blossoming career.