LAGUNA AVE (2021) Reviews and overview, plus clips

  

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Laguna Ave is a 2021 American sci-fi comedy film about a middle-aged slacker who gets involved in an accelerationist conspiracy.

Directed by David Buchanan from a screenplay written by Paul Papadeas. Produced by Ali Barone, Paul Papadeas and Gordon Gee.

The House Angus Productions-Succulent Films production stars Russell Steinberg (Days Out of Days, Adventureland), James Markham Hall Jr. (Snake Outta Compton), Stephanie Brait, Sheridan Ward, Dan Crane, Zachary Taylor, Felixe de Becker, Jane Reardon, Jeff Hilliard, Paul Papadeas and Carlos Marentes.

Plot:
Russell (Russell Steinberg) a burned-out television editor and middle-aged slacker with a prosthetic hand futilely searches for work in Hollywood’s brutal, exploitative underbelly.

His former boss owes him money, his partner Rita is always out of town and inaccessible, and his new downstairs neighbour, Gary (James Markham Hall Jr.) keeps him awake at night with mysterious, disturbing noises. But everything changes one evening when Gary pays Russell a visit introducing him to a sinister world of an accelerationist conspiracy…

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Blurb:

“Delirious, demented, and occasionally whacked-out druggy, packed with weird and wild characters, a pulsing, pounding soundtrack, and a plot that defies description, this “gonzo schlockfest” (Kim Newman) is US indie cinema at its most entertaining and original. A nutty blend of Kevin Smith’s Clerks, Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Swingers and Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Laguna Ave is an address you really need to visit as soon as possible.”

Reviews:
” …this is not a film that will win awards for its story […] And what the hell happens in the last 5 minutes really is anyone’s guess. Laguna Ave doesn’t have a lot to say but with some choice performances and a knowingly camp swagger, there’s much to adore here even if it’s to indulge in the comedy rather than the sci-fi horror.” Bloodguts UK

“The super-duper low budget does result in some charmingly daft VFX moments, though, and Buchanan deserves credit for a kaleidoscopic final sequence which, if nothing else, ends things on a hypnotic high. It’s tough to fault the film’s energy or its sensibly brief 80-minute runtime, yet it strikes several awkward tonal notes and doesn’t quite feel developed enough to carry itself through to the finish.” Flickering Myth

“Absurdist micro-budget comedies with trashy humor and sci-fi elements won’t be for everyone. For what it is, the film is perfectly executed, but that does not mean it will hold a universal appeal, this is niche cinema meant for a certain brand of deviants who lap this stuff up.” Grimoire of Horror

“This isn’t so much a case of half-a-good film and half-a-bad one; Laguna Ave is a DIY oddball treat through to its core, it just takes a little too long to realise it. Patience is a virtue, and with this one, it will undoubtedly pay off.” 4/5 HeyUGuys

Laguna Ave is at once lowbrow and highbrow; experimental cinema which also features a great big superhero hand and a guy taking a sh*t on a desk. It’s dirty and somehow polished; clever and dumb. It’s both boldly ambitious and cheerily content to just sit around, scratching its own balls. I both liked it a lot and didn’t really care for it at all.” 3/5 Horror DNA

Laguna Avenue begins with a slacker dramedy tone but turns into something quite different, with Russell experiencing drug trips […] and eventually power trips […] Old-school–flavored computer effects from Will Erokan add to the trippiness of the film, which also boasts some solid rock tunes and synthesizer flourishes.” Horror Fuel

“Shot in cool black and white, this has some of the tatty feel of vintage cult oddities like Big Meat Eater or Oversexed Rugsuckers From Mars, with pleasingly retro effects and creature design that involves people having electronic junkyard salvage stapled to their bodies.  Steinberg channels the kind of neurotic Onur Tukel has been playing in his own pictures for a few years, with a nicely bitter edge…” The Kim Newman Web Site

Laguna Ave resides on a similar – if lower-rent – ‘weird noir’ block to Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales (2006) and David Robert Mitchell’s Under The Silver Lake (2018) […] Yet Buchanan’s extremely low-budget oddity takes those films’ fixations with bodily functions, and gradually converts them to the body horror/sci-fi of Shinya Tsukamoto’s similarly black-and-white Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)…” Projected Figures

Release:
Laguna Ave will stream exclusively on the Arrow platform from February 1st 2022.

Cast and characters:
Stephanie Brait … Rita
Manuel Canut … Tom Vela
Dan Crane … Pierre
Félixe De Becker … Karina
James Markham Hall Jr. … Gary
Jeff Hilliard … Dusty
Jameson Keeling … Park Walker
Carlos Marentes … Mayor Juan
Maxi … Producer
Paul Papadeas … Boss
Jane Reardon … Cassandra
Russell Steinberg … Russell
Zachary Taylor … Dan
Sheridan Ward … Charlie

Technical details:
1 hour 20 minutes

Original trailer:

Arrow trailer:

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

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