The marketing for The Death of Dick Long has been careful not to reveal the brilliant twist of the picture. The big question from such a title is how did Dick Long die. The trailer showcases the question being asked and the shock when it is heard. The preserve a wild reaction, I’ll try not to mention the twist here but, wow, does it force the audience into an odd spot of drama and hilarity.
A Confounding Death
Dick Long is dumped in front of a hospital after a night of partying by his best friends Zeke Olsen (Michael Abbott Jr.) and Earl Wyeth (Andre Hyland). Dick’s friends are so unwitting they don’t realize their pal is dead by the time they drop him off. Now facing murder charges, they scramble to ditch the evidence and it’s not easy for these guys. Zeke is a father who has to get his daughter ready for school and husband to a suspicious wife. Earl has a working-class job with his off-hours spent smoking and drinking. They’re not very skilled at getting rid of bloodied clothes, Dick’s wallet and the car they drove him to the hospital with.
Part of the film wants us to laugh at their ineptitude. In a tense situation at a gas station, Zeke tries to pretend nothing is wrong while he fumbles with evidence. Later, Zeke will bicker with Earl about what setting to use with the washing machine for getting out blood. Disposal of the car doesn’t go well either. But another part of the film asks how much sympathy we have for their ineptitude. Zeke is stupid, sure, but he genuinely loves his daughter and is terrified of losing her. Does he deserve to suffer for is ineptitude?
That’s a tough question to ponder. Even tougher, however, is deciding how to feel when Dick Long’s cause of demise is revealed. It’s a surprising death that rides the line between shock and hilarity which is bound to make the jaws drop in the audience. I doubt that even if I mentioned the twist here you’d believe me. Even the characters are in disbelief, still shook about how someone could die of such an act. I wish I could be there in the theater to just turn towards the audience at THAT moment.
Dark Comedy Without a Wink
There is still a heart to the picture in the form of the investigating Officer Dudley (Sarah Baker). She is a wholesome young officer who always approaches the populace with a gentle nature, taking care never to probe too deep to agitate the flow. It’s especially interesting to watch such a figure get involved with this case as she seems shocked to deal with such a situation. She treads lightly through scenes with her superior Sheriff Spenser (Janelle Cochrane), aged and weary enough to not be as shocked. Spenser merely takes a drink, keeps on moving and doesn’t talk too much about it. Dudley is no meek cop, however, as she still takes her job seriously. She just does so with a chipper smile and curious nature to accompany here gentle nature. We later see she has a more stable home life than that of Zeke.
I’ve avoided mentioning the director up to this point because it would perhaps reveal too much. Or maybe it would make just the right amount of sense. Daniel Scheinert previously directed Swiss Army Man, a tongue-in-cheek comedy about one man trying to avoid suicide with the help of a farting corpse. That film never tried too hard for comedy and kept things deeply earnest so that the more emotional theme can take root. The Death of Dick Long operates under the same tone, taking care to never wink at the camera. It’s a format that likens to the format of Fargo, daring you to either feel something for the characters or mock them for the absurdity. You’ll never find a firm answer.
The Death of Dick Long plays with emotions of the audiences, asking us if we’re willing to laugh, cringe or stare in awe at the bizarre spectacle. I enjoyed the picture but more on a level of trying to dissect the provocation within its dark comedy. Do yourself a favor and come into this picture as cold as you can. Savor that moment where the film reveals its strange twist. Then dig deep and find just how much humor and humanity lies in such a crime of mistakes and passion. Not all of it hits the right notes, even for being off-beat, but it does stay in the mind for an unforgettable plot.
Did you see The Death of Dick Long? What did you think of the twist? Did you laugh or cover your mouth to hide your shock? Let us know in the comments below. If you liked my review, check out some of my other movie reviews.
The Death of Dick Long
The Death of Dick Long plays with emotions of the audiences, asking us if we’re willing to laugh, cringe or stare in awe at the bizarre spectacle.
- Shocking twist
- Finely walks the line of drama and comedy
- Awkwardly tense
- Off-beat humor doesn't always land
- Questionable character intentions