Directed by Julie Kimmel, who wrote this with Ken Del Vecchio and David Landau, all of whom I can only assume are aliens from some other plane of reality who had never met human beings before but sent this to our planet to show us that they want to be our friends yet have no idea how humanity reacts to things, kind of like how there’s that scene with the orange tree in The Last American Virgin and we’re all supposed to say, “Yes, that’s a universal symbol that makes perfect sense.” Imagine that kind of disconnected emotion for an entire film.
Jesse Genesis (Mario Del Vecchio, whose father is the writer of this in case you wondered, I can only assume that he is also extraterrestrial) is a ten-year-old whose father has been missing since his father went to a movie theater where James Whitmore (Eric Roberts) appears and gives his daughter Aurora (Lacy Marie Meyer) the ownership of the place before a gun rights meeting and then a clown shows up and shoots up the place. Jesse thinks that if he completes a series of tasks, including getting his black belt in five days, his father will come back.
At the same time, his busy advertising agency working mom Abby, (Mila Milosevic) goes to find the psychic who told her that she would get married, Elizabeth (Julie McCullough, who was in The Blob remake!), who is now a law professor. Elizabeth still has visions that she can’t control and those same images are being seen by Jesse. Also, he talks on the phone with Martin Kove, who used to own the theater.
This movie has left me with so many questions. Is Jesse like Bruce Lee, creating his own martial art and awarding himself his own black belt? Is McCullough’s character insane and why do we get the scene where she sees her old boyfriend at the bar and it never really pays off other than to crush her dreams and show that her visions rarely come off? How does Abby keep her job when she just walks out on a major pitch?
Anyways, all the theater footage is recycled from Joker’s Poltergeist: The Aurora Massacre, a movie that Del Vecchio made to cash in on the real life July 20, 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater. If you think that movie sounds upsetting, he also made The Life Zone, a story of Robert Loggia’s character going all Saw and kidnapping three pregnant women who want an abortion and it turns out that everyone is in Hell. He also made a sequel, Cries of the Unborn, as well as An Affirmative Act (a positive gay marriage film with Charles Durning, so this guy can’t be pigeonholed), The Great Fight (an autistic man become an MMA fighter in a movie starring Loggia, Durning, Joyce DeWitt and Martin Kove) and O.B.A.M. Nude (a movie he wrote and starred in as Barrack Obama, who sells his soul to Satan to be President). He was a former New Jersey judge who quit that to make movies and host the Kenneth Del Vecchio’s Hoboken International Film Festival, where this movie premiered (and Martin Kove was given the Hall of Fame Award; ironically many of the award winners at this festival have been in Del Vecchio’s movies).
Yes, Kenneth plays Bob, the missing dad.
Yes, this was shot at Caldwell University, a Catholic university in New Jersey where the film’s co-producer — and Kenneth’s wife and Mario’s mom — Dr. Francine Del Vecchio is a full-time Professor of Education.
Yes, the dad comes back because all it takes to be a black belt is to break a board.
This movie is baffling because it is somehow both religious and secular, embracing the divine and the occult. There are so many missing pieces, as if the entire movie is one big plothole in search of a story, all explained by psychological terms and a long rambling explanation of what the belts in karate mean.
Once, as a kid, my rich neighbor paid for me to be the tackling dummy for her grandson and teach him how to fight back against bullies. I was told I was to learn nothing and be there simply to be thrown and struck. I ended up becoming a pro wrestling with a few MMA fights on my resume. I have no idea what happened to that kid because once I started showing some skill, she told me that I was not there to learn and fired me from a job where I was not getting paid.
None of these lessons involved breaking boards.
You can watch this on Tubi.