The following review is coverage for the Twin Cities Film Fest.
Eliza Sherman’s Revenge is bad to a truly baffling degree. Normally I’d try to be a bit more coy with how I presented that revelation, but I honestly can’t come up with a single angle by which to approach this review except to be absolutely blunt: Eliza Sherman’s Revenge doesn’t work on any conceivable level. It’s a comedy without laughs. It’s a supernatural hijinks film without supernatural hijinks. It’s a character study completely devoid of character. This is a movie that had money invested in its production and was released to film festivals. And there is nothing redeemable about it.
The plot, such as it is, involves a group of friends who haven’t seen each other since college reuniting after a mysterious invitation to Richard Grieco‘s birthday party from a lost member of their tribe, Eliza Sherman (Jackie Geary). However, if the title weren’t a subtle enough indication, Eliza has other plans for her guests, and after drugging her guests—for some reason—they wake up to discover that Eliza has trapped them in the house behind a forcefield, created as a product of her newfound “special powers.” Now Eliza seeks to get her former friends to apologize for ruining her twenties with their peer pressure to engage in drugs and sex.
Eliza’s powers are wildly inconsistent for the purposes of the plot, including blowing a hole in the wall, filling that same hole so that the effects team doesn’t need to keep rendering it, surviving a stab wound, teleporting, and travelling in time with absolutely nonsensical consequences. The film clearly hopes that this will tickle a meme-culture lawl-teh-random part of the brain, but the reality of the film is never heightened or exaggerated enough so that such an exercise feels farcical. There’s no internal logic to how characters behave, especially after time travel shenanigans that in no way could have influenced the results depicted, and the whole experience feels tedious when you realize the film is attempting to communicate a moral about Eliza’s inability to take responsibility for the bad in her life.
Not that you ever get to feel a sense of how Eliza’s life could be bad, since we only ever see her kick ass with her powers, as scattershot as they are. This is a film that thrives on telling rather than showing, with characters talking in circles about their pasts without giving us an adequate glimpse of past infractions or the consequences of those events as they hurt Eliza. Instead, we’re treated to what writer-director Gregory Fitzsimmons seems to think is the key to comedy: fast talking, circular reasoning, and shouting. This is the entire film, save for when it takes a break to stage an extended biphobic sequence in which the members of the party just list queer and kinky sex acts they’ve had with one another. Hilarious!
Eliza Sherman’s Revenge is poorly conceived at every stage of its production. It encourages pity laughs at best and bored silence at worst. It’s a chore to sit through, and while a bad drama may be accidentally hilarious in its ineptitude, bad comedy is dull as its wit. If Eliza Sherman’s Revenge achieves distribution beyond the festival circuit, avoid it at all costs. It is the anathema of a good time.