Dustin Guy Defa’s “Bad Fever” takes mumblecore to its reductio ad absurdum, featuring a hero whose utterances border on the unintelligible. Auditioning to become, of all things, a standup comic, with an oft-rehearsed monologue as painfully pathetic as it is unfunny, Eddie (Kentucker Audley) confides to his audience that his life is “probably not as great as you imagine it.” Minimalist character study builds a curious empathy with this loser as it follows him through St. Louis’ deserted backstreets, his loneliness exacerbated by brief encounters with a low-rent femme fatale. Pic opens Friday at Brooklyn’s ReRun Gastropub.
Inarticulate Eddie works sporadically on a tree-maintenance crew, living with his dour mom, the only woman in his life until a callous young drifter named Irene (Eleonore Hendricks) hits him up for cigarettes outside a gas station. Quickly imagining her his girlfriend, Eddie is soon unwillingly starring in crude videos she shoots for “a guy in Idaho” involving vaguely humiliating, sexual acts of indeterminate interest to anyone. Audley, a helmer in his own right, somehow infuses Eddie with a compelling presence that exerts an offbeat authenticity.