Real Cool Time (2023) Review
With a title and opening quote sourced from the songs of Iggy Pop, Real Cool Time signals its punk attitude right from the start. And that is what writer/director Matthew Packman (Husk, Margo) delivers in this twenty-five-minute follow-up to his feature Morbid Colors.
If you haven’t seen Morbid Colors don’t worry, this works fine as a stand-alone story. In fact, it may actually work a little better if you’re not familiar with Devin (Lanae Hyneman, Morbid Colors) and her sister Myca (Kara Gray, The Gospel Writers’ Autographs, Payton’s Burden).
Devin has just returned from a European tour for her band’s first album. If the purpose of the tour was to get their name out there, it certainly worked, even if the stories were more about Devin’s brawling with other musicians rather than their performances. Now she seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth, supposedly working on songs for the band’s second album.
Local music journalist Juliya (Alice Shen, Both Ways: The Movie, A Quiet Family Christmas) has tracked her down and, since she feels she’s owed an interview, turns up at her door refusing to take no, or even “You need to leave”, for an answer. Basically, a two-character film, Real Cool Time focuses on Juliya’s abrasive questioning of the obviously unwell, mentally as well as physically, Devin. And it’s her persistence, even in the face of warnings to leave that drives the story.
Packman keeps upping the strangeness of the situation as Devin passes out, becomes violent, and generally acts like someone you want to call 911 on for their own good. Instead, Juliya doubles down and resorts to more devious methods to find out why Devin went off the rails in Europe. It makes for an interesting if slightly improbable clash of wills between the two women that works even without a hint of the supernatural.
This is all very well staged with strong performances from both actresses and cinematography from Jakob Bilinski (Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh, Bourbon Documentary) which makes the apartment feel like a trap. It all builds to an effective and impressively shot climax that actually makes good use of the cliche storm and power outage.
The one problem I had with this is, like many shorts, Real Cool Time is all buildup to that climax, and having some familiarity with the characters I had a fairly good idea of what was coming. If you’re not familiar with them you’ll probably get a bigger jolt out of the reveal. And then you can go back and see Morbid Colors to fill in the background.
Real Cool Time Will be playing festivals starting in the summer. You can check for announcements of which ones on the Morbid Color Facebook page and follow the film on Instagram @realcooltimemovie.