A disturbing film about teen violence and rage, A Better Place was View Askew Historian Vincent Pereira's directorial debut. The film stars Eion Bailey, Robert DiPatri, Joseph Cassese, Carmen Llywellyn, and Brian Lynch. Executive produced by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, this lesser-known View Askew film was released by Synapse Films on DVD in 2002.
A Better Place was funded by Kevin Smith (of Clerks, Dogma, and Chasing Amy fame), who secured $80,000 for the production of two independent films while renegotiating his Chasing Amy contract with Miramax. Smith gave half of the money to Malcolm Ingram and Matt Gissing for Drawing Flies and the other half to Pereira. Later, a similar deal would be struck allowing for the production of Bryan Johnson's Vulgar and Brian Lynch's Big Helium Dog.
The film begins with protagonist Barret Michaelson (Robert DiPatri) finding his father dead, having fallen off the roof of the house in a terrible falling-off-the-roof-of-the-house accident. Barret and his mother move to a different house in a different city for reasons that are never completely explained--but one might surmise it had something to do with putting the past behind them and, possibly, finding a cheaper home since one of the family's breadwinners was now gone.
On his first day at his new high school, Barret is ridiculed and almost beaten up by local bullies, but is saved at the last minute by fellow student Ryan Walker (Eion Bailey), who intervenes. Barret and Ryan become fast friends; Barret continues to have trouble "fitting in" with the new crowd and Ryan is a bit of a loner, so they continue to do things together with a type of "the rest of the world can bite us" attitude we've probably all felt from time to time.
Eventually, however, Barret finds some other friends he enjoys hanging out with, and Ryan sees this as evidence that he is "just like everyone else." Discussions between Barret and Ryan begin to dwell more and more on Ryan's aggressive personality and violent, misanthropic philosophical beliefs. And when school bullies gang up and attack Ryan in his own home, he explodes into a rage that threatens to kill just about everyone in a three-mile radius. Barret hopes to save his friend from the demons that plague him, but in the end, he may need luck just to save his own ass.
A Better Place is an unusual View Askew film in that it contains little, if any, comedy. Vincent Pereira intended this to be a serious film, and the result is very impressive, indeed. With a budget no greater than that of Clerks, Vulgar, or Drawing Flies, Pereira transformed a fairly complex concept into an excellent (full-color) independent film.
Runtime is 87 minutes. Originally known by its working titles The Happy World of Bunnies and Total Peace, the film was released to the film world (pre-DVD) in 1997.
Cast and Crew List
Directed by Vincent Pereira
Written by Vincent Pereira
Cast (in credits order)
Jerry Rosamilia .... Barret's Father
Robert DiPatri .... Barret
Eion Bailey .... Ryan
Jason Lee .... Dennis Pepper/Steve
Molly Castelloe .... Meg
Carmen Lee .... Augustine
Christina Squillari .... Bitchy Girl
Suzanna Smith .... Additional Bitchy Girl
Brian Lynch .... Eddie
Bryan Sproat .... Justin
Joseph Cassese .... Todd
Vincent Pereira .... Jake
Eric Einhorn .... Lookout Student
Mark SaFranko .... Todd's Father
Richard Lynch .... Mr. Raimi
Scott Mosier .... Larry
Gerald Rosamilia .... Vice Dealer
Patricia DiPatri .... Barret's Mother
Scott Nelson .... Small Rude Student
Ethan Suplee .... Large Rude Student (as Stan Dubar)
Alice the Ferret .... Cimino the Ferret
Keegan Bailey .... Young Ryan
Lizbeth Finn .... Ryan's Mother (corpse)
Michael Miano .... Ryan's Father (corpse)
Lee Bendick .... Whipporwill Asshole
Dan McGee .... Sidewalk Bum
Marge Holmgren .... Woman Getting Newspaper
Original Music by
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Phil Benson .... supervising sound editor (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Danielo Garcia .... sound recordist
David Glaser .... sound mixer (original 16mm mono mix)
Eric Grissom .... boom operator
Scott Mosier .... sound editor (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Juan Peralta .... sound re-recording mixer (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Brandon Proctor .... sound re-recording mixer (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Gary Rizzo .... sound mixer (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Gary Rizzo .... sound re-recording mixer (5.1 Dolby Digital remix)
Jim Von Buellow .... sound mixer (original 16mm mono mix)
Gabriel Friedman .... grip
Neil LaRosa .... stand-in: Joseph Cassese
Chris Parry .... special thanks
Brian Quinn .... special thanks
My source for most of this review/writeup was simply watching the movie (duh) but some information came from everyone's favorite movie source, IMDb.com.