Directed by Robert J. Escandon, 2006
Strange Sunset is in little capacity a horror movie, but as a fan of the indie fare, Rob Escandon asked me to check out his film, so check it out I did. I’ll admit that when I put it in, I was a little hesitant as to whether or not I was going to like it. It is an incredibly minimalist film. Minimal budget, minimal settings, minimal cast. This could be off putting to most, but for aspiring Indie filmmakers, it comes with the territory.
To Escandon’s credit, he embraced his technical constraints and actually leveraged them to his advantage, creating a movie that really is just like a live action anime. If you don’t like anime, you’re not going to like Strange Sunset, which emulates many of the existential tendencies of heady anime with its story about a man, Akio, stuck on a philosophical bridge, battling with multiple parts of his personality in an attempt to regain control over his life.
The sound design is actually fairly impressive, especially by self-produced standards. The music is rich and omnipresent. The fight scenes, which are peppered throughout, are a little lackluster in terms of the choreography and direction, but there’s only so much you can do without a full on stunt department. My main complaint runs with the editing, which seems a little long winded and could be tightened in several sections.
I’m not sure where the Hitchcock in this "Hitchcock meets Japanimation" film actually is, but the anime qualities of it alone are often times compelling simply to see how efficiently Escandon pulls it off. If it were a little brisker in its pacing, it would be quite a buzz worthy Indie flick, but as it stands, Strange Sunset is impressive in its technical accomplishments, but a little underwhelming in its full effect.
Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not the world’s biggest anime fan, so while I appreciated it, I’m sure it will go over with much more fanfare when it screens at the upcoming Tokyo International Film Festival. There is a very definite crowd that eats up movies like this, even more than I did.