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New Release Review - WHITE CRACK BASTARD

A middle class man descends into a drug fuelled hell.



Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: James Cullen Bressack

Starring: Rhett Benz, Taja V. Simpson, Edmond Chapple, Alexis Dickey



Like sports, other people’s dreams and holidays, I suppose drugs are probably exciting for the people directly involved in the experience, but, for the rest of us, hearing about them is a bit of a chore.


I try never to prejudge a film, least of all basing an opinion on what that film may be called, but the candid epithet of low budget horror enfant terrible James Cullen Bressack’s White Crack Bastard has a certain foreboding quality. Even before we get to the film proper, there is that title to get over - tiresomely non-pc in the same way that graffiti scrawled in a school toilet is, implying a film with a similar depth and wit. It’s a divisive title: look out squares, prepare to get startled. As the would-be industrial score played beneath an opening intertitle informing that White Crack Bastard is ‘based on a true story’, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and readied myself for so much SHOCK.
At the very least, there’s no need to get trading standards involved, with White Crack Bastard featuring Rhett Benz as Luke; a man of Caucasian origin, who is partial to freebasing, and is pretty much poisonous to everyone around him - damn those drugs! In fact, so dedicated to its ‘does what it says on the tin’-ness is White Crack Bastard that in terms of plot, that’s pretty much it.
We start the film with Luke already off his gourd smoking a couple of cracks with his pals - Chubbo (Edmond Chapple) and Gina (Taja V. Simpson), the best thing about this silly, sordid film - and, side stepping the usual drug film narrative where an initial euphoria is followed by a finger wagging second act low, in the opening scenes Luke is already near enough rock bottom. The camera is all fragmentary (confusing!) and Luke receives oral sex off Gina while they’re all high (the horror!). The film positions this as if it is a necessarily bad thing, and then proceeds to follow Luke as he pulls, tweaks and henpicks his way through base houses, a failing relationship, and his day job as a head shot photographer for an acting agency.
The explicit suggestion is that the drug taking, the wasted potential, the nihilism isn’t in itself outrageous, but the fact that it is happening to a middle class white man, which is scandalous. Luke doesn’t really have much character beyond his privilege, no traits other than his skin tone and presumed status (in fairness, he does care for a pet bunny, but that doesn’t count because everyone likes rabbits). This insidious racial theme is compounded by the comparatively sketchier actions of Chubbo and Gina, both black, who, when not trying to kiss his willy (Gina), or mess up his kitchen (Chubbo), are exhorting Luke to ‘sell his father’s camera’ for another moreish rock of crack (both). Are we supposed to automatically think that white Luke deserves better than this, that he is inherently worthier than his black counterparts (whom the film entirely debases)? Hang on, it’s ok everyone, because midway into the film, Luke meets a lovely actress (Alexis Dickey), and she’s white - and thus doesn’t take any of that nasty crack, and is sugar, spice and all things nice and thus could be able to restore the respectability which is his birth right. PHEW!
Luke and Heather’s crack crossed relationship is the film’s endeavour towards conflict, with the latter character weeping and a wailing over her fella’s mucky addiction, the inconvenience of which usually manifesting in Luke misplacing an automobile while on a crack binge. He loses his car, he loses Heather’s car, and then he loses the car he borrows to find the original cars: I thought I was pretty street wise about controlled substances and their myriad effects, but this highly specific side effect is a new one on me. You live and learn. And so does Luke, eventually, but it’s a long hour or so before he does. Like sports, other people’s dreams and holidays, I suppose drugs are probably exciting for the people directly involved in the experience, but, for the rest of us, hearing about them is a bit of a chore. Call me square, but I think I’ll stick with a nice cup of tea.
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