March 4, 2019 Do It Yourself (Movie Review)
The DIY culture has gained tremendous popularity over the last several years. Want to throw an unforgettable dinner party? There are several sites and apps that teach how to do it all from scratch from the food itself all the way to the napkins accompanying the place settings. The Internet allows anyone to learn whatever they might need simply from clicking on a video. Even criminals have to use this effective resource time to time in order to get out of sticky situations. All these thoughts brought to mind, out comes the Action Crime flick Do It Yourself, slated for release on DVD and VOD through Artsploitation Films on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
The work of Writer/Director Dimitris Tsilifonis (The Way of Styx 2012, Life of Homer 2017), the story revolves around Alkis Vidalis (Konstadinos Aspiotis: 10i entoli 2004, S1ngles 2004), an ex-con who is being held prisoner in an active porn studio by instruction of known businessman, Daniel Bezerianos (Christos Loulis: Slaves in Their Bonds 2008, Love Me Not 2017). Bezerianos is in jail because of his dealings with crime boss, Joseph Forkou (Themis Panou: Miss Violence 2013, Notias 2016).
He needs Alkis’ videoed confession of crimes in order to be released from prison. Bezeroano’s lawyer, Ioanna (Mirto Alikaki: Under the Stars 2001, A Place Called Home 2013) needs the video uploaded online in order to legally get her client out of prison. Alkis is aware that once they have what they need from him, the hitman Petros (Makis Papadimitriou: Chevalier 2015, Suntan 2016) will kill him to sew up loose ties. Time is not on his side.
Using various DIY hacks and porn props, Alkis fights like mad to survive. Toothbrushes and BDSM props are surprisingly useful. Just do not forget the duct tape! The porn studio is littered with Bezeroano’s hired guns. Alkis will not survive without finding a way to outsmart them. It is not a moral fight for him. He does not care if Bezeroano is in prison or not. He just wants to walk out of the building alive. Everyone involved has blood stains on their hands. Is Alkis DIY savvy enough to accomplish his mission and live to see another day?
Do It Yourself has a lot of moving parts. It is clear to the viewer from the beginning that the full scope of the story will not be easy to see from the outset of the film. It opens with Alkis’ recording the video. He says, “The revelation of the real villain occurs somewhere around the end.” While this is true for most films, there are obvious grey lines here. An argument can be successfully made for each character being the ultimate villain. Part of the reason is they are all criminals of some kind. The main reason, though, is with so many different characters with shady tendencies it is sometimes difficult for the viewer to fully follow what is happening.
Sure, it is fun to watch Aspiotis’ Alkis use his environment to keep the clock running on his life by using various things in the setting he is in. The main issue is the viewer will often lose track of who is on which side – Bezerianos or Forkou – which makes much of the events in the film less dramatic as confusion over motivation will cloud the scene. Minus the murder aspect, it is also unclear which is the lesser of the two evils. Even though it is promised it will be revealed, it never is in any clear and concise way. This is the biggest failure of the film. Then again, Alkis does narrate a good chunk of the film. He proves almost immediately that he is not a reliable narrator. Criminals are not always the best at drawing linear lines.
There are not any “good guys” in this film. Alkis even warns the viewer, “Don’t expect to like me. That’s the point of being an antihero, anyway.” This extends the rest of the characters. Everyone has blood on their hands. Though each have brief moments of likability, not a single character can be trusted. Unlike a majority of films, no single actor outshines another. Every character involved is either a criminal by trade and/or employed by the porn industry. All effectively portray an air of brutal muscle with generous splashes of simple idiocy. That is the most amusing aspect of the entire film.
None of the characters seem to have any real self awareness or passion for what they are doing. They seem, at times, to almost be bored with the situation surrounding them. Papadimitriou’s Petros perfectly highlights this as he stands idly picking his nose waiting for the go to kill Alkis. Yes, everyone involved is a criminal but not everyone involved is a mastermind. During certain scenes the viewer might wonder how these men with guns are even still alive, let alone in this line of work. This is a testament to Tsilifonis’ writing that even while committing crimes, the characters still hold an air of ignorance and simplicity.
Another of the most interesting part of Do It Yourself is the subtle way it creates interest in other Greek Action films (intentional or not). At one point Alkis admits, “along with most Greek action movies, we’re simply a wannabe Hollywood knock-off.” Several other moments in the film other Hollywood movies are referenced by various characters. Do It Yourself does have its problems, but the quality is good enough to peak the interest and curiosity of the viewer unfamiliar with Greek films check out others in the genre from the country. In a way, it sets itself up as the standard Greek Action film for foreigners to judge others. Clearly a brilliant move by the muscle behind this film.
Overall, Do It Yourself employs solid writing, but with a complex and sometimes confusing story. A second viewing is in order to try and place the pieces together and see what might have been missed the first time. It is an interesting Greek film that will keep the viewer amused, confused, and entertained. It is for these reasons that Cryptic Rock gives Do It Yourself 3 out of 5 stars.