Greywood’s Plot (2022) - In Search of a Monster Leads to the Darkness of Man
Updated: Dec 15, 2022
Joe Bob's Drive-In Jamboree is an event when the Mutant Fam come from across the country to celebrate their love of Joe Bob and Darcy, each other, and Horror films. This year, Josh Stifter's (The Good Exorcist) film Greywood's Plot was showcased. Written by Stifter and Daniel Degnan (The Good Exorcist) and starring Keith Radichel, Daniel Degnan, Nathan Strauss, and Josh Stifter.
Dominic (Stifter) isn't doing so well. He lives with his mom (Kim Fagan), he's moody, spends all his time in his room working on his website 'Youwatcher,' obsesses over the brutal reviews of his videos, and is stuck in arrested development. About to end his site and his life, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep containing a VHS tape with footage of what he believes to be the elusive Chupacabra. His luck may have finally changed.
His best friend, Miles (Radichel), is less than enthusiastic about going deep into the woods to investigate this cryptic video which he insists is a fake. A bit of a fiasco on their Jersey Devil investigation has soured his interest. He reluctantly agrees, and the two head out for fortune and glory.
The first half of Greywood's Plot feels like it could be part of the View Askewniverse, with quick, rapid-fire dialogue, conversations that feel authentic, amateur improve (using the F word as a noun and verb), and that 90s indie movie vibe. On the surface, it's a quest to find and film elusive crypto, but underneath, so much more.
For one, Dom, it's a last-minute attempt to find meaning and purpose in a life he feels has none. For the other, it's a way to say goodbye to a friendship that has anchored him for far too long. A lifetime of friendship sometimes wields scars that don't heal so quickly. The juxtaposition of home movies as kids with the conversations, laughter, and arguments as adults gives actual weight to their history.
If the first half of Greywood's Plot is 'Clerks,' then the second is definitely 'Tusk.' The whole mood of the movie takes a 180-degree turn as they come upon a Cabin in the woods, and the banter and light-heartedness fade with the setting sun. There's an animation about two high school students that were eaten by hobos. It's crude and hyper-gory, but it's a great way to up the production value and the grindhouse aesthetic. Much like the O Ren Ishii animation in Kill Bill, it is a harbinger of violence.
A modern-day twist on the Island of Dr. Moreau's tale, the latter half goes more philosophical while becoming a full-on body horror creature feature. With the introduction of Doug Greywood (Degnan) as the property owner, it's unclear if he's here to help the fellas or do them harm. As the masks are removed, along with a few faces, and the true nature of our antagonist is revealed, Dom will have to decide if his life is worth saving as Miles, lost in a sea of nightmare creatures, must decide how far he is willing to go for his friend.
The decision to go black and white put me in the headspace of classic Universal Monsters. It's fitting as Greywood's Plot shows reverence to the pioneering creatures of the silver screen, as well as George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. A bold choice that's fitting for the project. In some regards, it probably helps sell the effects in a way that otherwise wouldn't have been as effective. Adding "cigarette burns," odd edits, and video feedback elements during transitions gave it that passed-around VHS feel, adding to the nostalgia.
The special effect work here is quite good, apart from a questionable wig choice. The dismemberment moment, final transformation form, and the haunted woods sequence show off the level of craftsmanship the filmmakers achieved on a limited budget. If you're a fan of gore, the wait is worth it as the 3rd act is splattered in it.
I feel the story's first half could have been tighter without losing the relationship foundation. It's a long time before we get going. The footage is well shot, and the performances are solid. However, it feels repetitive. Some music cues don't quite meet the emotion or tone of the scene and take away the fear or tension of the visuals. The score is effective when apparent, and I think it could have been utilized better than needle drops. I'll never hear "Home on the Range" the same again.
Josh Stifter and his team managed to pull off a love letter to the genres that inspired him while using innovative film techniques and his unique voice to craft the world of Greywood's Plot. I think film fans will enjoy the tonal shift and go along for the ride with these two friends as they try to find a monster and themselves. It's incredibly ambitious for DIY filmmaking but shows that you can create something memorable if the passion is there. I look forward to seeing what horrors these filmmakers unleash next.