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Review: Ultra-violent Southern noir ‘My Father Die’ is all style, no substance

“My Father Die” is the provocative title for the debut feature by writer-director Sean Brosnan, whose father, Pierce, serves as a producer on the project. Inspired by Irish playwright John Millington Synge’s 1907 play “The Playboy of the Western World,” “My Father Die” is a gritty slice of Southern-fried noir, hinging around a gruesome patricide.

A black-and-white prologue introduces us to the father, Ivan (Gary Stretch), a homicidal Vietnam vet biker, and son Asher (Joe Anderson), who as a boy witnesses his father beat his older brother to death for a sexual transgression. Asher, struck deaf and mute, vows to avenge his brother when Ivan is released from prison.

For the record:

11:08 p.m. Dec. 7, 2022A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that Asher took a vow of silence.

The ensuing vengeance is a gratuitous orgy of violence. As Asher pursues Ivan, outfitted in his brother’s wolfskin headdress, Ivan returns with force, killing, raping and maiming anyone in his way. With a highly stylized look and hardcore soundtrack, Brosnan is going for a wild berserker aesthetic. But the Southern stereotypes and predilection for sexual violence is exploitation to the extreme.

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That these grisly acts and images are never interrogated results in a distressingly, thuddingly tedious experience. “My Father Die” is all provocation and no substance, and therefore completely meaningless. A shame, since it has an interesting style, but what could have been intelligently rendered is just a bloody sludge of gore, heavy-handed symbolism, and the abuse of the most crude and sordid instincts for shock value.

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‘My Father Die’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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