Sarah (Stefanie E. Frame, Gravy) has recently returned to her hometown and taken a job with a local catering firm. She finds herself working the wake of a former classmate. It seems that Hank Boyd is dead. He hung himself in jail after being arrested for a string of murders. Expecting a slow, if somewhat uncomfortable afternoon, things change when she overhears a conversation between Hanks’s brother David (David Christopher Wells, Son of Sam: The Hunt for a Killer) a police detective and his partner Ray (Michael Hogan, The Kill Point).
Realizing they’ve been overheard they turn on Sarah. This sets off a chain of events that sees all manner of dark family secrets including who is the father of sister Aubrey’s (Liv Rooth) unborn child. As secrets are revealed the body count grows. Everything spirals out of control as the history of the Boyd family is revealed. And did I mention Baby (Casey Nicole Wright)?
Sean Melia makes his feature-length debut as writer and director here and really shows incredible talent. Hank Boyd Is Dead manages to straddle several genres, pulling what it needs from each at the right moments. It has moments of incredibly dark humour without ever becoming a comedy.
Hank Boyd Is Dead ventures into the territory of films like Spider Baby without really becoming a horror film. And there’s more than a touch of Southern Gothic like Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte or Dear Dead Delilah. The film also incorporates some interview and home movie footage. This is confusing and annoying at first. But as it goes on it makes sense. It helps to reveal the history of madness in the Boyd family that has led up to what we are seeing.
The cast match the material and give excellent performances. From what I gather most have a stage background rather than film. Stephanie Frame does a great job of going between terrified and resourceful as she uses her wits and anything else available to stay alive. Carole Monferdini (Next Stop, Greenwich Village, The Bell Jar) as the somewhat senile mother also gives a strong performance. And Michael Hogan is effectively slimy as Ray.
Shot almost entirely in one location, Hank Boyd Is Dead is proof that you can do wonders with the right script. Even if you’re lacking budget or star power. Keeping it all in the house also adds a sense of claustrophobia to the proceedings as well.