Tasked with the lofty burden of scattering his best friend’s ashes, Travis (Ben Hethcoat) heads out to a remote campsite to say goodbye and bury the past once and for all. Even though he is isolated in the woods, his friends who are among the living are able to communicate with Travis via Skype and messaging. His friends are virtual lifelines to Travis as he questions his grip on sanity and tries to reconcile his relationship with the recently departed, Paul (Clancy McCartney), who seems to inhabit a clay jar of his remains.
Show Yourself is a film directed and written by Billy Ray Brewton, and it was hard for me to get behind this film at first. There was nothing, in the beginning, to really grab me. This also wasn’t helped by some of the ham-fisted acting from a circle of friends who were supposed to be grieving. However something happened gradually as the film progressed; the writing started to make sense, and I started to get the film. Even the strange choice of upbeat hipster music didn’t bother me so much as I began to care about Travis and his drunken journey into the abyss of self-reflection. The acting was supposed to be awkward as friends avoid their feelings, but once confronted with the truly terrifying set of occurrences, the film starts hitting a stride that sucked me in. Finally, the payoff at the end really sent a chill up my spine and it’s rare that horror films have that visceral of an effect on me. This film had won me over.
One of the fresher elements of this story is that Travis’ phone and laptop never run out of battery. This is different from just about every modern horror film I can think of today. In fact, Show Yourself has many of the main elements of a Dogme 95 film (which includes the strange choice of music I mentioned earlier). Paraphrasing Dogme 95 director Thomas Vinterberg, the best way to facilitate creativity is to put limitations on your work so that you can find clever ways around those limitations. It would have been easy for Brewton to make Travis’ devices run out of power to foster that sense of isolation and fear, but Brewton made those devices have impossibly long battery lives. Even when his laptop is about to die, Travis is able to plug it into some external battery/charger. In this way, Brewton explores the crushing isolation that we can feel in spite of the fact that we can reach out and contact those we love at any time we want, whenever we chose to do so. At the same time, Brewton also shows us how neglecting to reach out when it is so easy can have dramatic social and psychological consequences.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.