I'm a sucker for agreeing to review films that I personally like the look of, even if it is a bit of a stretch to say they really belong on this blog. Such was the case with Denton True's crime drama, A Drunk Scorpion Will Sting Itself to Death. The title alone took my interest and so here I am some 76 minutes later writing a review of it. Thankfully, while it isn't horror it is a good film.
True stars as Dean, a homeless crack addict whose near brush with death after an overdose leads to him wanting to get clean. Luckily for him his path crosses with that of Maria (Chanel Mack). She happens to be a vigilante who murders drug dealers, and in return for Dean using his knowledge of dealers in order for her to hunt them down she offers him a place to stay, as well as the promise to help him achieve his dream of getting clean. However, it may be true that a leopard can't change its spots...
This had a bit of an exploitation grindhouse feel to it, the locations and characters met along the way are all degenerates for the most part. Dean is a character who makes for a flawed protagonist, while he has the best intentions his addiction means it is hard for him to fight against his own nature. Maria on the other hand is more of a mystery in terms of her character. When she is first met she has already been killing people for a while and so she is calm and collected with little background to say why she is doing what she is, or how she has gotten so good at it. The only other characters who get a decent amount of screen time are Dean's homeless girlfriend Diana (Ewa Maria Wojcik) and his homeless friend. Diana serves as the temptress archetype, representing both Dean's past, as well as a mirror to the type of person he once was. Maria on the other hand serves as a role model for Dean, something to aspire to be like (outside of killing people obviously).
I liked the grindhouse moments here, scenes of violence are swift and unexpected, and even occasionally humorous. These scenes aren't glamorised, instead gunshots sound like dull pops and the scenes are very brief. It slightly reminded me of Taxi Driver, though not as dark and gloomy as that one. On the one hand this shows the difficulty in getting your life fixed, best shown in an interview Dean goes for when there are all sorts of awkward questions revolving around his work history and living arrangements. Despite his many flaws he isn't a character I disliked, he has a humour to him and an awareness that humanises him somewhat. I can't say I was particularly surprised with how the story played out but it was told in an effective way. There were some nice stylistic choices made, such as the narrator who opens and closes the movie coming out as a voice on a radio playing in-film. For the amount of drug use here there are no trippy sequences, instead characters are shown from the perspective of a sober person.
A Drunk Scorpion Will Sting Itself to Death was an engaging ride, without dragging it still seemed to be a longer film than it actually was, and it makes great use of locations. From dark parks and narrow alleyways to the homes of drug dealers this all looks grimy and dirty, while the dialogue is kept to a minimum with no excesses parts to it. I wouldn't so much say I enjoyed watching the film, but it was an interesting movie that kept my attention from start to finish. The film can be brought or rented from The Movie Agency's Vimeo page here.