As The Electric Man starts Trace McNeil (Jed Rowen, Ouija Mummy, Dahmer vs. Gacy) is trying to read an electric meter when the house’s owners Mr. (Eric Roberts, The Surprise Visit, Alter Ego) and Mrs. Manson (Elissa Dowling, Girl on the Third Floor, Clown Fear) point their guns at him, taunt him and accuse him of “putting that 5G in our meters”. As if that isn’t bad enough he takes a massive electrical charge from a weirdly glowing transformer.
Surprisingly the shock doesn’t kill him and he wakes up in his bed the next morning. His buddy Quinn (James Di Giacomo, Stripper Academy, The Last Son) stops by talking about the game Jed bowled the night before while wearing a hospital gown no less. Trace can’t remember bowling or a trip to the hospital. In fact, his mind is a blank from the time he got zapped until he woke up.
Writer/director B. Luciano Barsuglia (Social Distance, Impact Event) ramps up the strangeness as Trace finds himself dealing not only with his girlfriend Rose (Rachel Riley, Moon Creek Cemetery, Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper) a stripper who might also be a vampire but becoming unstuck in time and space.
As he moves uncontrollably between possible versions of his life he’s chased by zombies and meets an odd assortment of characters and it’s his conversations with these people that make up most of The Electric Man’s plot. Among them are his supposedly dead father (Vernon Wells, No Name and Dynamite, Commando), Jace (Tom Sizemore, Damon’s Revenge, Heat) a carpenter who may have originally come from Nazareth and Luke (Tanamin Clark, Aaron’s House) a homeless man who be from somewhere a lot warmer.
The Electric Man is a spiritual/philosophical journey wrapped up in the guise of a science fiction/fantasy film. Barsuglia seems to have learned a lesson about stretching a budget beyond the breaking point after trying to film the end of the world on pocket change in Impact Event. Here he keeps things simple, there are no epic scenes of heaven and hell and the zombie apocalypse is kept low-key with solid makeup for the walking dead but no scenes of mass destruction. He keeps it simple, and acting as his own cinematographer, makes the most of existing locations.
What The Electric Man does have is some interesting ideas and dialogue about life, how we live it and the choices we make. Or whether we even have the ability to choose or if everything is predestined and fated. I know these are heavy subjects and a lot of viewers will find themselves bored by them. But there’s a vein of humour through a lot of the film that keeps it from getting too ponderous and heavy, a fairly impressive task given the material at hand.
There are a few moments when the variations between the realities can be a bit jarring, such as the one with a hippy version of Quinn, and that’s part of the fun. Eventually, though Trace realizes he has to return to his own reality, the question is, how does he manage that?
Viewers who don’t mind dialogue-heavy films and serious themes should find The Electric Man an interesting watch. While it does have a point of view it never pushes it to the point of alienating those, like myself, who don’t necessarily agree with it. I will say I wasn’t thrilled by the way it all works out in the end, but others will probably get a chuckle from it.
The Electric Man is available on Digital platforms via Indie Rights Films. It will also be playing on February 26th at the Golden State Film Festival, you can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.