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Review: SHOW YOURSELF (2016)

Writer/director Billy Ray Brewton has a list of credits, mostly for short films, that stretches back to 2005, including the zombie comedy DEAD AHEAD and SKANKS IN A ONE HORSE TOWN LIVE!, a two and a half hour musical western. With SHOW YOURSELF, he moves into much more mainstream territory.

Essentially a dark drama with some horror elements, SHOW YOURSELF concerns Travis (Ben Hethcoat THE MORTUARY COLLECTION) who ventures into the woods to say goodbye to his recently deceased friend Paul. However, as he stays in his remote cabin watching old videos of the two of them, he finds it harder to leave. And the longer he stays, the more strange things seem to occur, including the appearance of a mysterious and potentially menacing figure.

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Much of the film rests on Hethcoat’s shoulders. He’s not just the lead but the only actor on screen for most of the film. We see other characters as he interacts with them via video chats and the videos he watches, but Travis is the only one who appears directly on-screen, with a couple of short exceptions. He deserves much praise and credit for holding the film together.

SHOW YOURSELF is ninety percent psychological drama, with occasional elements borrowed from horror films. It does build some tension and scares near the end, but that’s never the film’s main purpose. It’s an examination of friendship, growing up and growing apart. The film is quite successful as such. The supernatural elements are well-used to enhance the film’s points. There’s always plenty of doubt as to whether they’re genuine or the product of stress, grief, guilt, and way too much alcohol.

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Travis’s extreme isolation helps steer the audience’s expectations, being alone in the woods is never a good thing, is it? No matter what genre, it’s a situation that always goes badly. It makes it much easier to believe there is something out there, even when the rest of the film’s tone points towards a more logical explanation. That conflict keeps the film from becoming yet another indie drama, even if it’s never quite a genre film either.

An effective genre hybrid, SHOW YOURSELF will be released August 14th on DVD, Google Play, and XBox. The film is available now on Amazon Instant Video via Summer Hill Films.

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