[Review] Mattia De Pascali's 'McBetter'

February 12, 2019

Mattia De Pascali's McBetter opens in a dormant slaughterhouse.  An abundance of meat hangs on various hooks. A haunting look of it all, compliments of D.P. Islam Mohamed. As we track through the hanging meat, each drips with more and more salivic looking blood than the last. A testament to the beautiful special effects work by David Bracci. Wash your hands before returning to work.

 

A ghostly woman now stares right at us.  Through the soul of the audience. Her hands swirls around a crystal ball.  The ghostly woman is a fortune teller.  One that performs for the TV audience and gives them the opportunity to call in. The first caller, a man, asks the fortune teller for answers.  Before the caller can really get into the question, the fortune teller says that, "Faith is everything for the one who will triumph."  The caller wants to know if all his sacrifices, his certainties, and his studies will ever really lead him somewhere.  A place where his financial security will never waiver. In a stereotypical, over-acting way, the teller tells the caller that he has strength and the desire to obtain a "golden future." He just needs the will to make it so. She talks of a Will that...will...make him immortal.

 

It is now that the camera begins to track backwards.  As we zoom out, we now see the TV set that she's being watched on. A colorful, "Visa and MasterCard Is Accepted" logo appears on the left side of the screen.  We are now in the room that the gentleman is calling from.  The gentleman, Malcolm (Andrea Cananiello), hangs up the phone and stares blankly off-center. And thus, starts the somewhat humorous opening credits, that were expertly done by Daniele Ostuni.

 

"McBetter."

 

I say humorous because Malcolm, this average man, does average calisthenics, in his average whitey-tighties. He then struggles to get his pants on over his whitey-tighties that have what appears to be a ladybug printed on the front of the underpants themselves.

 

Once the opening credits come to a close, the audience is now in car with Malcom and our co-lead, Melanie (Serena Toma). The two discuss going back to "the house" that Melanie left just a little over a year ago. On the way to "the house" the two pull off the road, into a seedy parking lot.  A silhouette of man holding a briefcase is posted outside of a van.  Melanie asks if Malcolm remembered the money. Once money is in hand, Malcom shuffles towards the silhouetted man.  Melanie looks on in concern.  The transaction appears to have gone smoothly. Malcolm walks briskly back to the car, briefcase in hand. A shiny red briefcase at that.  As they drive away in their mini P.O.S. Yaris we see that the alley they pull away from is connected to a circus.  Something strange is afoot.  The two drive through night to their destination.

We now arrive at Casa de McBetter. A mansion with a villa's look to it. It is now that we meet Joe McBetter (Nik Manzi) and his wife, Patricia (Donatella Reverchon). Joe McBetter, father of Melanie, owns a very profitable fast food chain. So the aforementioned mansion comes as no surprise. Joe hears Malcom and Melanie's car in the distance, but does not know it's them. As Joe quibbles about who it could be, their son, Little Joe (Oscar Stajano) asks Joe (Dad) and Patricia (Mom) if he can shoot the visitors. Only Patricia laughs.

 

Now that Malcom and Melanie have exited the vehicle, they are greeted by a less than enthused Joe.  Accentuated by the fact that he isn't happy to see his daughter, Melanie.

 

It is here that I will leave you. McBetter starts relatively harmless and spirals into a bizarre trip of power, greed, family, and... Well, you'll have to watch for yourself to see the crazy ending.

 

Every actor involved did an exceptional job at nailing their particular character's arc.  Andrea Cananiello (Malcom) plays the best weasel I've seen in quite some time. There were moments where I wanted to leave the room at how uncomfortable he made me. Serena Toma (Melanie) flips a switch from somewhat, dare I say, mousey to full on hardcore, femme fatale.

 

If and when you get a chance to view McBetter, dim the lights, tear open the Sour Patch Kids, and brave the weird.

 

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