Movie Review: “Go/Don’t Go”

Adam shows up at a “surprise” birthday party thrown in a bar thrown for him, where no one knows him other that his “best friend.”

And “I’m your best friend, and I hate you.”

At least Kyle (Nore Davis) sets him up. Awkward silences, more awkward sentences later, and somehow they’ve hit it off. “Settle up” your tab K (Olivia Luccardi) advises him. He does, but when he opens the door for her to get into his car, she’s vanished. And the look on Adam’s face gives away just a hint of shock before a wave of resignation crosses it.

It always does.

Actor turned actor/writer/director Alex Knapp‘s “Go/Don’t Go” is an obscurant cinematic journey into one man’s existential crisis, a long dark night of the soul. Because whatever happened in that bar that night, whatever followed it, his “present” is hell — a hell, we come to believe, exists entirely in his own skull.

Adam (Knapp) is obsessed with lightbulbs, taking them out of empty houses, burying them under a cross he makes and paints on a hillside near where he lives.

Any time Adam finds a phone, he calls to leave himself messages — “Hi, it’s me. You me.” Don’t forget to hit the market when you get this message.

The market is nearly out of stock, but the messages remind him of where that last box of powdered milk is.

He takes batting practice, via pitching machine, at a steadily more overgrown ball field. He wanders a vast vacant bowling alley. And he goes to “work,” donning coveralls to take another shot at fixing a pickup truck in a garage.

Every car he sees he marks up with an “x.” Because it no longer starts? Every empty house he inspects gets another “x.” After he’s removed a light bulb.

Is this what the apocalypse will look like, “I Am Legend” at least in my own mind.

“Outer Limits” flickerhops onto his TV. And on a radio — in the shop where he works, or in a car — mournful tunes play out in between 1976 Cincinatti Reds World Series games and chat shows where a host talks about people “stuck in nostalgia.”

One song stands out. “I’ve done a bad thing,” a man sings, “and I’m paying for it right now.”

How you take “Go/Don’t Go” depends on your tolerance for minimalism, existentialism and cinema that’s almost devoid of incident. “Obscurant” means “deliberately obscure,” withholding information, teasing or challenging. That’s what’s going on here.

It’s not impossible to figure out what’s going on in this Big Metaphor/Little Movie. But aside from a few arresting images — that bowling alley could have been Charlton Heston in “The Omega Man” at the movies — there’s not enough going on to demand attention or hold one’s interest.

MPA Rating: Unrated

Cast: Alex Knapp, Olivia Luccardi, Nore Davis, Zoey Wagner

Credits: Scripted and directed by Alex Knapp. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:32

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