My notes on Kate Shenton’s Egomaniac (2016)
An amusing, brief zero-budget exercise in scurrilous pseudo-autobiography (at least we hope it’s pseudo) and turning-worm fantasy payback from writer-director Kate Shenton, who lends her previous feature credit (the suspension documentary On Tender Hooks) and a short film (Gimp) to her lead character, writer-director Catherine Sweeney (Nic Lamont).
After a gory opening in which the masked Catherine rants among corpses and announces that this is her director’s commentary, the film flashes back to the long development period of her dream project – a romantic zombie comedy, which gets dilutes as would-be backer Derek (Simeon Willis) insists she write in a talking dog and chancer producer Nathan (Adam Rhys-Davies) foists no-hope casting choices on her while dangling the prospect of never-seen moneymen backing her picture if only she’ll compromise. In sketch-like bits, Catherine gets short shrift while introducing Gimp to a tiny audience and attempting to get a store to replace a missing rental DVD of On Tender Hooks, and imagines conversations with her temperamental, demanding lead sexy zombie character Kevin (David Wayman), who resents the imposition of short, schlubby gore movie star Michael (Laurence R. Harvey) in the role. Besides pithy observations about the scuzzier end of the movie business, the film has an extra heaping of annoyance to pay off in its depiction of the added humiliations visited on a woman who wants to direct horror – which include getting a goth chick make-over and ordered to twerk with a chainsaw in a photo-shoot.
It’s a nice irony that Catherine’s rom-zom-com sounds utterly ordinary even before she has to fit in a talking puppet dog, but the thread that rings truest is the payoff after Catherine has rewritten her script against her instincts to meet demands from financiers only to be told that the elements she put in at their insistence are ruining the project and justify producers trying to ease her off her own film. This being a charade, it leaps into wish-fulfilment as Catherine disembowels her tormentors and then scrappy nightmare as her murder victims and characters from her unwritten and neglected script ideas crowd in to give her a hard time about her artistic fall from grace. Lamont is fun and credible in the lead, bringing sympathy to a role which could easily be whiny and self-involved – Catherine is less of an egomaniac than the unlikeable lead of last year’s slightly similar revenge fantasy comedy Banjo (in which Harvey also featured). Gossip-inclined genre cognoscenti will spend a lot of time speculating on which real-life film scene characters inspired Catherine’s crass, unashamed tormentors.
The actors makeup in this film was second to none!!!