Thursday, November 20, 2014

LA Film Festival: ‘It’s A Disaster’ Makes Doomsday A Laughing Matter


It’s A Disaster isn’t a typical ‘end of days’ story. Death may be everywhere, but hope is the last to die, especially at a couple’s Sunday brunch in Los Angeles.  Writer/Director Todd Berger’s third outing as a features’ director, It’s a Disaster depicts four couples who meet for a routine brunch, quibble about the successes or failures in their respective relationships, and suddenly find they’ve got a far graver matter to contend with: the apocalypse.  Pregnant with possibilities, this premise is successfully mined for shocks and laughs.

It’s A Disaster features an ensemble cast, including Rachel Boston, Kevin M. Brennan, David Cross, America Ferrera, Jeff Grace, Erinn Hayes, Blaise Miller, Julia Stiles and Todd Berger (The Scenesters) as a neighbor. Most of the film takes place inside a large kitchen in the West Adams district of Los Angeles, allowing Berger’s actors to shine.  Rachel Boston (In Plain Sight) and Kevin Brennan (Super Zeroes) give particularly impressive performances as eccentric married couple Buck and Lexi Kivel, soul-mates ever-searching for a third.  Their onscreen chemistry crackles with energy.  David Cross imbues Glenn Randolph, a doomsday cultist, with humanity by underacting.  And America Ferrera realistically captures the range of emotions one coming to terms with impending death must feel.

Inspired in some ways by George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Writer/Director Todd Berger wanted to turn the horror genre on it’s head. I wanted to make a film that would challenge viewers,” Berger explained in a one-on-one with Desiree Washington of Popdecay after the Los Angeles Film Festival premiere of It’s a Disaster. “I liked the idea of a bunch of people being forced to stay inside the house.” But Berger does more than place a group of volatile personalities in a closed space.  He gets into the details of their character, explores what makes them tick and how they will respond to the stress of knowing the end is near. By focusing almost exclusively on the interpersonal relationships of L.A. hipsters, Berger offers a fresh take on disaster films.

It’s a Disaster screens tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival as part of the Summer Showcase.

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