STANLEYVILLE MOVIE REVIEW
What would you do for a habanero-orange compact sport utility vehicle? Blow up as many balloons as you can in a minute? See how long you can hold your breath? Write an international anthem that would unite the world and lead all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace? Be an accomplice to murder? That’s exactly what this Squid Game-esque dark comedy asks of its five contestants. But while Squid Game had schoolyard activities turned into murderous bloody trials, Stanleyville is a bit less intense. Okay, well, maybe that last one’s a bit intense. That’s on-brand for this odd film where Susanne Wuest plays Maria, a dissatisfied woman who abandons her career and her family when she gets the chance to compete in a bizarre and dangerously flawed contest. But there’s something afoot in the ten rounds of competition. Firstly, there are only eight rounds. Maria is up against four others, who know about as much as she does. She is there for personal transcendence. They’re there for the SUV. This directorial debut from Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ uses a strange unspecified “platinum-level exclusive contest” in its pitch to the unsuspecting cast of characters as a metaphor for self-actualization. And if winning means a bit of light self-destruction, it’s all worth it for that prize. Does Stanleyville use absurdist satire to say something about the futility of modern life, or is it just weird? T.C., Robert, Chad, and Trevor are here to decide.
DIRECTED BY: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos
STARRING: Susanne Wuest, Cara Ricketts, Christian Serritiello, George Tchortov, Adam Brown, Julian Richings, Mihály Szabados
T.C. De Witt (Screener Squad)
T.C. De Witt is a multi-awarded writer/director originally from Wisconsin and now based in Los Angeles. His life has been devoted to the arts since he was a child. He’s been a stage performer, playwright, stand-up comic, film and television actor, radio DJ, podcaster published author, recorded musician, and comic writer/illustrator. He is now a professional screenwriter and has been thriving for the past decade, regularly offering his talents to production studios in LA, Chicago, Milwaukee, and internationally in Sydney and Poland. He’s provided content for Amazon Prime, Netflix, and several YouTube partners. His films have screened internationally, and his stageplays have been performed across the country. In the last ten years, he has directed 57 films, 23 episodes of his series The One Minute Rewatch, 300+ episodes of podcasts, and his multi-award-winning short film Screen: Righter screened at the Festival de Cannes in 2016. He has released two feature films, The Princess Knight and A Christmas Sunset. He thrives on collaboration and the thrill of sharing stories in all forms.
Robert Garza (Screener Squad)
If it weren’t for sad music and scary stories I wouldn’t be as well-adjusted and cheerful as I am today. Moonlighting as a musician off and on since adolescence, I am as big a fan of scores and needle drops as I am of slow zooms, production design, and third act exposition. Just about all of my screen time is spent on international horror, drama, and hour long episodic. Big fan of genre, and the biggest fan of supernatural horror and dark sci-fi with meaningful representation and narratives that use trauma, grief, and grace as more than surface-level content. Also, I read a ton of modern horror novels/comics and stan Matt Berry. In the before times I worked music and film festivals across the US and will hopefully return to that sometime in the future.
Chad Halvorsen (Screener Squad)
Chad Halvorsen currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, where he produces and edits commercials, films, and everything in between. He was always a fan of film/television growing up, spending days in the Summer, making (terrible) home movies with his brothers. Little did he know that passion would carry on into adulthood. Since 2006, Chad has worked for several agencies in various departments. Shooting, producing, editing, production management, directing, and when forced to, writing copy. In 2015, Chad decided to take the big leap and become a freelancer. Since then, he’s produced content for Lyft, AT&T, Target, and Discovery Network. His passion lies in entertaining people, making them feel better, even for a moment. All the pain and suffering of this business is worth it, if even just one person views his work. Chad is a frequent podcaster, most notably posing as a co-host for the podcast “The Film Illogical Society.”
Trevor Trujillo (Screener Squad)
Trevor T. Trujillo is a One Of Us contributor in addition to being the co-host, co-founder, and co-producer of the Nighthawks Podcast. Trevor’s 17-year media career spans multiple arenas including television, radio, podcasting, and online journalism; and he is currently the editor-in-chief for a regional online news provider in the Rocky Mountain West. Often a nomad, Trevor has found himself “at home” in places like Austin, Texas; West Hollywood, California; and throughout central and southeastern Wyoming. Get the pause button ready, Trevor also manages to pop up in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them featured extra roles in Nickelodeon’s FRED, TruTV’s OPERATION REPO and the Todd Rohal/Zack Carlson short THE SUPLEX DUPLEX COMPLEX.
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