Plot: What’s it about?
Lahn (Kevin DiNovis) is a heroin addict who will do anything for his next score, even if it means risking everything he has. Trevor (Peter Pryor) is a dishwasher who keeps to himself most of the time, since he is terrified of women. He wants to find his dream girl, but he can’t even speak to one, let alone form a real relationship. These two lives soon connect when Lahn, desperate for a hit, robs his dealer Denis (Jason Centeno) and in the process, becomes a hunted man. In an effort to save his life, at least for the current time, he goes to the door of Denis’ friend, who happens to be Trevor. Lahn pleads with Trevor to hide him until it is safe and after some thought, Trevor agrees to lend a hand, but with some catches. As time passes, Trevor begins to offer Lahn protection, shelter, and even drugs if he does some things, all starting by the request to wear an apron, one which has “Dorothy” stitched across it. Lahn agrees, but as more time rolls by, Trevor keeps pushing Lahn to do more, such as dress like a woman and even take female hormones. Now Lahn has found a way to quench his addiction and Trevor has his dream girl, but at what cost?
If you’re a fan of dark, unique films, then prepare to spend some cash, as Surrender Dorothy has been released on DVD. This movie was a smash on the indie festival circuit and if you ask me, it deserves all that praise and more. A lot of modern movies are called “cutting edge” or “radical,” but few really warrant those names and Surrender Dorothy is one of those few. A very dark, sometimes almost too dark look into a relationship, this picture draws us a most unique character study, one that makes us think, to be sure. I have to label this as one of the most original storylines I’ve seen in recent years, but this is not just a premise, Surrender Dorothy fulfills all the potential found with that excellent basic premise. But because of the nature of the picture, I know some viewers will be turned off, though that doesn’t make this a bad movie. The subject matter is often hard to swallow (especially if you’re used to mainstream flicks) and the characters aren’t ones we can relate to, but it all works out just the same. I am thrilled to see this excellent film issued on this format and since First Run has included some cool extras, this one is highly recommended.
This film was written & directed by Kevin DiNovis, who has to be commended for his work here, especially since this was his debut. I know that many first time filmmakers tackle unusual subject matter, but DiNovis has crafted a dark and unsettling premise, without resorting to simple shock tactics. Yes, Surrender Dorothy has some shocks (more for some people than others), but the shock comes from within the characters, as opposed to random events or elements written in to ensure a cheap shock. As I mentioned above, I love the premise here and it never let me down, even the details and development were just as impressive. The characters seem very realistic also, which makes the events and situations seem that much more effective. At this time, DiNovis hasn’t worked on other pictures, but I hope to see more of his work soon, based on the strength of this picture. In addition to DiNovis himself, the cast also includes Peter Pryor (The In Crowd), Elizabeth Casey, Jason Centeno, Keri Merboth, and Marcos Muniz.
Video: How does it look?
Surrender Dorothy is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this was a very low budget movie, I was taken back by how clean and impressive this transfer looks. Of course, some grain is evident, but it adds to the tone of the film I think and never presents any problems, so no worries there. The print looks clean aside from the grain, which allows the black & white visual to shine to the fullest potential. The contrast is on the mark also, with stark and very accurate black levels at all times. This transfer has some minor flaws, but given the budget and nature of the feature, I think this presentation is top notch in all respects.
Audio: How does it sound?
As this movie is fueled by dialogue, the audio is based in a natural, subtle scope, so the included stereo option is more than adequate. The music and sound effects are clean and well presented, but this is stereo, so keep your expectations in check. The main focus here is on dialogue, which sounds crisp and always at a proper volume balance. Not much else to report here, this is a basic, but effective overall audio treatment.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a ten minute behind the scenes featurette (with insightful narration), some talent files, production notes, and the film’s theatrical trailer. The main bonus is an audio commentary track with director Kevin DiNovis, producer Richard Goldberg, and star Peter Pryor. This is a lively, very informative session and I think it was a wise choice to bring in all three, as there is never a silent moment here. I suspected this would be a great track and it was, very candid and far from the usual back patting commentaries contain.