At once hilarious and horrific, fake docu posits a young woman with lots of hair and tons of 'tude making a film about child abuse to help victims (including herself). She goads her subjects to confront their abusers then abandons them when her makeshift "therapy" goes precipitously south. Indie cable take note.

At once hilarious and horrific, “UR4 Given” will need advance word-of-mouth or a captive audience for viewers to get beyond what starts out looking like the worst documentary in history. Fake docu posits a young woman with lots of hair and tons of ‘tude making a film about child abuse to help victims (including herself). She goads her subjects to confront their abusers then abandons them when her makeshift “therapy” goes precipitously south, leaving a string of dead bodies and a host of now-murderous ex-victims in her documented wake. Indie cable take note.

Venturing into “Blair Witch” territory with a shaky camera and even shakier pseudo-director, pic gives new cinematic meaning to the literary concept of the “unreliable narrator.” Helmer Cinque Lee (youngest brother of Spike and co-scripter of “Crooklyn”), in the wholly fictional character of Monica (Monica Deo), has fashioned a directorial alter-ego who embodies all the most questionable practices of documentary filmmaking in quasi-“Troma” mode. Zero budget and believably flaky performances by regulars from Lee’s two earlier, equally bargain-basement features add to the homegrown absurdity of pic’s psychotic, achingly earnest self-help concept.

Take the case of petulant Sean, a satin-clad hustler who blames his gayness on a neighbor’s abuse and his parents’ neglect (he whines on and on about his parents’ false claim that it was Halloween — which was why he showed up at his neighbor’s door wearing nothing but a loincloth!). He invites the filmmakers over to his parents’ house, the confrontation going along in a fairly predictable why-do-we-have-to-dredge-all-this-old-stuff-up-again manner until both his mother and father suddenly keel over with farcical grand guignol having been drugged by their vengeful son.

A young woman, who was once raped by her date’s mafioso father, is urged to confront that ex-boyfriend carrying a hidden camera. Monica stands guard in the hallway, ostensibly ready to ride to the rescue, except that she loses the signal. Inside, the camera records the woman being beaten up and raped anew by her high school crush, following in his father’s footsteps.

But the piece de resistance is delivered by a father/daughter duo of crime fighters who lure Internet pedophiles into their web and then administer their own peculiar brand of justice. For most of the long segment, pic’s satirical focus is the twisted vigilante education of the little girl. The alleged pedophile looks like some pathetic loser whose only signs of perversion are a box of candy and a balloon. The discovery of an adult-size S&M sex tool, however, shifts the ground radically, leaving the viewer as disoriented as the movie.

Tech credits are suitably atrocious in a film whose ersatz director is wont to bean her cameraman with a beer bottle.

UR4 Given

Production

A Manabu Nakaoka Prods./Race Against Time production. Produced by Manabu Nagaoka. Directed, written by Cinque Lee.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Lee; editor K.A. Chisholm; sound, Jesse Ehredt. Reviewed on videocassette at Urbanworld Film Festival, New York, Aug. 10, 2004. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Monica Deo, Sean Bohary, Anderson Slade, Emma Bohary, Tom Jarmusch, Rebecca Reagan.
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