Threat takes DIY to a new level, to massive though diminutive popular exclaim
There’s DIY and there’s DIY, and then there’s Threat. This low-budget indie flick is sure to become a micro-cult classic if for no other reason than the way it was bootstrapped into existence. Question is, does the film have anything going for it besides its black-as-flag punkass lineage?
You can’t deny that Threat is a 99.8 per cent pure (like the soap) renegade production. Populated by a cast of screen virgins who double-timed as crew, the film is all about the rough edges. In fact, the only straight edges herein are the hardcore scene-rats that the film is essentially about. There’s charm to it, for sure. And knowing that the outdoor shoots were powered by jacking into streetlamps earns Threat a few extra nods on the street-cred scale. The film’s producers capitalize on the rickety flick as best they can, throwing in the odd shaky-camera gesture and splicing in illustration frames and calculated animations. As far as it goes, the tacked-together feel works for the film.
For all that, most of the acting is about as stiff as one of those posable art dolls, though a few performances are genuinely striking. Carlos Puga as Jim, the kid-next-door-turned-nihilist-ghetto-urchin, is easy and engaging in his role. It’s Puga, as the film’s anchor, that keeps Threat from drifting towards a dry exercise in post 9/11 tub-thumping. And if Jim’s speechifying occasionally gets too cringingly earnest, too undergrad wiseass, he’s likeable enough for us to excuse the lapse. Equally true are Keith Middleton’s hip and wise brother (in the soul sense) Fred, and Kamouflage’s Richie Rich OG-wannabe, Desmond.
Threat is already drawing comparisons to Kids and American History X but a more accurate comparison might be an aggro-urban Clerks vamping a rec centre staging of Fight Club. Most of the film revolves around the kind of conversations that are boring past the age of 23, and the fourth act devolution into ultra-violence is more rim-shot than crescendo. The film’s rhetoric is just too heavy-handed for Clark’s understated pubescent comment and too undirected for Kaye’s acute art school essay. The film does have that not unfamiliar tang of voyeurism, though – that guilty sense of unearned access. And for those underexposed to the frequently buffoonish clique-ishness of organized subculture, Threat could deliver its fair share of insights.