August 19, 2019 Tone-Deaf (Movie Review)
The struggle is real! It’s Baby Boomers vs. Millennials in the brand new Tone-Deaf, starring the brilliantly embattled Robert Patrick and Amanda Crew. Saban Films deliver the Horror-Comedy to theaters and On Demand as of Friday, August 23rd, 2019.
Tone-deaf former wannabe pianist Olive (Crew: The Haunting in Connecticut 2009, The Age of Adaline 2015) is a Millennial living amongst the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Her hippie mother Crystal (Kim Delaney: All My Children series, NYPD Blue series) lives on a commune, and her father (Ray Wise: Twin Peaks series, Jeepers Creepers 2 2003) committed suicide when she was still a little girl. This fact perpetually impacts her relationships, including the “easiest break-up ever” with her most recent useless boyfriend (Tate Ellington: Remember Me 2010, Sinister 2 2015). Unfortunately, after she puts him out with the trash, her bad week turns even worse when she talks back to her creeper boss Asher (Ray Santiago: Meet the Fockers 2004, Ash vs Evil Dead series) and is fired for insubordination.
Out in the country, Baby Boomer Harvey (Patrick: Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991, The Faculty 1998) is showing the early stages of dementia according to his son David (Ronnie Gene Blevins: The Dark Knight Rises 2012, Twin Peaks series). Though he’s lived a good life and traveled the globe, he still clings to an old tomahawk and the dream of guiltless, gory murder. So, he does like any self-respecting wannabe sociopath would do and opens an Airbnb.
When Olive’s sultry bestie Lenore (Hayley Marie Norman: Hancock 2008, Adam Ruins Everything series) urges her to seek out her Eat, Pray, Love moment, to escape the city and decompress, she finds herself online and renting a 5-bedroom mansion in the sticks for the weekend. A getaway to relax and reinvigorate her soul can’t hurt anyone, right?
Clocking in at 90 minutes, Tone-Deaf was written and directed by Richard Bates Jr. (Excision 2012, Trash Fire 2016). It also features the acting talents of AnnaLynne McCord (90210 series, Secrets and Lies series), Nancy Linehan Charles (Minority Report 2002, The Stepfather 2009), Johnny Pemberton (In the Loop 2009, Superstore series), Shane Brady (The Endless 2017, Doctor Sleep 2019), Heidi Kaufman (#WhenTodayEnds 2018, Chicken Girls series), and more.
Oh, Tone-Deaf. How you speak to a divided nation through your blood-splashing antics, dark humor, and sharp-witted satire. With endless digs at modern, vapid society, this is a film that says a lot in its underlying layers while maintaining its Slasher-Comedy facade. If you’re a Horror aficionado, the gore factor is nothing off the charts but there’s certainly some splashing amongst the slashing.
Throughout the entirety of the film, the characters intentionally represent tropes, from the dementia-laden old man who longs for the better days to the free-lovin’ hippie to the bored elitist from the big city. In fact, when it comes to Harvey and Olive, one is the stern-faced, jaded and bitter Shirley Temple-drinking landline, while the other is the hybrid-driving, Tinder-swiping, acid dropping cellphone. Perfectly opposed forces of nature, Harvey and Olive represent the refusal to find common ground amidst our country’s current, polarizing divide.
Patrick is genius in his stone-faced and acerbic delivery of soliloquies that highlight a disgust for the younger generation’s commitment to change and obsession with overpopulation and the environment. “If you want to be a conduit for change go drink a gallon of bleach,” he advises in one heart-warming aside. His Harvey is a perfectly-sculpted glance into the eyes of an elder gentleman who has faced his prime, and is afraid to allow the next generation to inherit the Earth. Patrick is at all times harsh and hard-hearted, and yet there’s a part of his condition that will evoke empathy in anyone who has dealt with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Certainly none of this forgives his murderous intentions, but that, my friends, is part of the comedy.
Crew’s Olive is certainly no angel either. Her nose is always in her cellphone, she has an utter lack of respect for the home that she’s renting, she uses drugs out of boredom, and she proudly wears her coat of elitism with honor. She’s entitled, and while not exactly a villain she’s certainly no hero. Crew brings these quirks to life on screen, exaggerating the life that many Millennials live on a daily basis so that viewers can see the flaws in their apathetic facade. And, plot twist, while she might not be a killer of people, but she is definitely a murderess of music!
The filmmakers use some intriguing cutaway scenes soaked in red, white, and blue to make additional socio-political commentary and offer keen insights into the mind of Baby Boomers such as Harvey. Contrast that with the inclusion of Awkwafina’s hysterical and very modern track “My Vag,” and you have a film that goes to extremes to accentuate the clear-cut divide among the population of the United States. Therefore, one can easily say that Tone-Deaf is a socio-political satire baked into the easily digestible crust of a Slasher-Horror flick. And, spoiler alert, all sides of the debate are tomahawked! For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Tone-Deaf 5 of 5 stars. Every era has a dark side.