Out of the wasteland in 2011, a low-budget Italian SOV flick called ADAM CHAPLIN hit festival circuits, but even though it garnered some praise, not much was made of it on-line or in print. Flash forward a couple of years and somehow the damn thing managed to sneak on to DVD and blu-ray in Europe with a forthcoming US DVD titled "ADAM CHAPLIN: VIOLENT AVENGER" (I can't help but wonder how long it took Autonomy Pictures to come up with that title). Now, suddenly, people are sitting up and taking notice.
After setting out on his rampage the corrupt police decide to recruit a serial killer to take out Chaplin before he can get his revenge. Of course, this really doesn't go as well as the cops' had planned and everything boils down to a massive confrontation between the crooked cops, the criminal kingpin (who has his own chemically induced powers) and a seriously pissed off Adam Chaplin.
So yes, there is gore, sci-fi and special effects, but I think what really raises this head and shoulders above most of the SOV pack, if not the entire DTV pack, is that it's surprisingly well written. Sure, it's not Tom Stoppard, but the plot of CHAPLIN is not handed to the viewer on a plate. Like a high-brow mystery, it unfolds piece by piece making what is the most basic of revenge plots seem fascinatingly complex by effective use of non-linear storytelling. Add to that some extremely effective atmospheric moments, such as one using nothing but flickering lighting, latex and a brick wall, and you have a low-budget, first-time effort that will knock your socks into the next room. For example, when Chaplin assaults a petty criminal in the sewer (clearly nothing more than two walls and a fluorescent light), the criminal starts freaking out that there is a ghost behind Chaplin. This moment sets up a serious "WTF" factor that totally pays off when, in a later scene in a police station, the "ghost" reveals its head in the darkness. It is quite possibly the most creepy and effective set-up and pay-off I've seen in a SOV movie this side of an Ivan Zuccon production.
Looking like the chiseled bastard child of Weird Al Yankovich and Sean Penn, Emanuele De Santi does a fine job as a stoic loner with deadly power. The other actors vary in their effectiveness with Giulio De Santi, his pattern-shaved haircut and waxed eye-brows, badly standing out as one of the police detectives, who is for no perceivable reason, blind. Combining a gamut of other creative influences without actually plagiarizing them (in itself something to be applauded), Emanuele De Santi throws so much at the viewer that some stuff sticks and some goes a bit wide. While not every element works perfectly, ADAM CHAPLIN is definitely marks the arrival of an amazing new talent. It almost feels like the cinematic equivalent of Black Flag's "Damaged" LP. Even if there are wrong notes scattered throughout the work and Gregg Ginn completely butchers the very concept of a guitar solo, that's not just something you'll over look due to the general coolness of the work as a whole, but is actually an integral part of its charm. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Emanuele De Santi's next project is, I can't imagine what this guy would do with a budget!