The Movie Waffler Vashon Island Film Festival 2022 Review - WES SCHLAGENHAUF IS DYING | The Movie Waffler

Vashon Island Film Festival 2022 Review - WES SCHLAGENHAUF IS DYING

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying review
Two filmmakers document their road trip to see their dying friend.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Parker Seaman

Starring: Parker Seaman, Devin Das, Wes Schlagenhauf, Mark Duplass

The various pandemic induced lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 saw filmmakers grow restless and decide to film something, anything, just to keep their creative juices flowing, get out of the house or avoid having to hang out with their families. Whatever the motivation, these movies are almost universally awful, filmed in sub-optimal conditions with bare-bones plots thrown together to justify their existence.

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying review

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying takes something of a meta approach to COVID filmmaking. It's about a pair of filmmakers who decide to shoot a movie during the lockdown, even though they've given practically no consideration to what the movie is actually about. "Let's just film us doing cool stuff," one of them says.

The filmmakers are played by Devin Das and Parker Seaman, who also co-wrote the movie with the latter directing. Their characters are also called Devin and Parker, which is odd considering how unlikable they are. Things get meta very quickly when you realise that the real life Devin and Parker have no more ideas for their movie than their fictional counterparts, and spend most of the film shooting what they might consider "us doing cool stuff," which amounts to little more than stuffing their faces with fast food and mugging for the camera like so many annoying millennial YouTubers.

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying review

The ailing Wes of the title is also played by an actor named Wes Schlagenhauf. A prologue shows how he ended his friendship with Devin and Parker following a row on the set of a commercial shoot. Three years later, during the lockdown, Devin and Parker receive a surprise phone call from their former friend, who lets them know he has a bad case of COVID and reckons he only has days to live. Devin and Parker decide to travel across the country to visit Wes before he croaks, not out of any love for their old buddy but because they figure it might make for a great movie. Spoiler: It doesn't.

What we get here is a movie with no ideas about a pair of filmmakers with no ideas. On their journey, Devin and Parker bicker; not in that charming It Happened One Night/The Sure Thing way, but rather in a manner that comes off as so mean-spirited that it's impossible to buy this pair as lifelong friends. Road movies are often enlivened by the various characters the protagonists meet along the way, but Devin and Parker don't meet anyone because everyone is stuck inside binging Netflix and Disney+ (the latter streaming service is referenced so often here that you begin to wonder if the filmmakers received a brown envelope from Mickey Mouse). This means we're left in the insufferable company of our two obnoxious leads for the bulk of the movie.

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying review

Some of my favourite movies feature obnoxious protagonists, but if this is the sort of person that's going to front your movie you need to make them entertaining or insightful. These douchebags are neither, and it's an endurance test to spend the film's mercifully brief running time in their company. There's a central debate in the movie over whether the title character really contracted COVID or is just seeking attention. I took a PCR test after watching Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying and tested positive for chronic boredom.

Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying
 screens at the Vashon Island Film Festival on August 13th.

2022 movie reviews