A B&W shoestringer that plays like “Ossessione” rewritten by Jim Thompson, “Fools Die Fast” has its moments. Largely shot on a single set, and played in a style halfway between noir parody and Off Off Broadway, ’50s-set pic is likely to be rediscovered as a curio when first-time Canadian director James Purcell goes onto better and bigger things. Till then, it should play occasional fest dates.
Purcell, an actor, first shot David Blackwood’s play as a short, with himself playing the male lead. Here, it’s Peter Outerbridge as Eddie, an uptight mystery man with “fools die fast” tattooed on his hand, who turns up late one night in a remote Midwestern diner and starts getting the eye from sex-starved, white-trash waitress Rhonda (Kate Greenhouse). When the owner, porcine Vern, falsely accuses Rhonda of stealing $ 12 from the till, Eddie ties him up, starts threatening him with a knife and films the whole proceedings with an 8mm home-movie camera. When Vern reveals that Rhonda once posed for porno pics, things start to turn ugly.
Though the material and characters are all secondhand, and the ambience familiar from a bucket-load of indies, the dialogue generally holds the attention, with Outerbridge fine and creepy as the lonerwith a short fuse. Purcell’s camera style is heavy on close-ups that accentuate the sometimes overripe acting and writing, but Stephanie Duncan’s editing, unusually smooth for a no-budgeter, keeps the drama moving and gives the whole shebang an aura of acceptable professionalism.