The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
by Garon Cockrell
DVD Review: Tumbledown
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By Garon Cockrell
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Nov. 4, 2013 5:15 p.m.

Tumbledown is an unusual suspense film about three gay men whose
passions lead to an incident, the truth of which may not be certain.
The film opens with a sex
scene in a mostly dark room. The mirror on the left side of the screen is lit,
and there we can see the two men from behind. A third man enters, and we see
him mostly when he passes the mirror. But then one of the men wakes, and so
that third manís presence was just a dream. Or perhaps most of the sex was too?
The other man is asleep next to him, and he gets up to close the door, putting
us in complete darkness. And that is the opening sequence of the film,
certainly an intriguing opening.
A womanís voice saying ďTell me the truth of what happenedĒ lets
us know we are moving back in time, and then a title on screen tell us,
ďMay 17, 2010.Ē This is when the three men meet. Rick (Brad Hallowell, who also
co-wrote the script) is working as a bartender, and itís a slow night. A man
named Jay (Todd Verow, who also directed, co-wrote, photographed, and edited
the film) immediately renames him Ricky and orders a couple of drinks. He is
new in town and owns a nearby camp. He then slips Rick some money and asks for
something stronger.
Mike (Brett Faulkner),
Jayís boyfriend, later calls Rick to invite him to spend the weekend up at the
camp at Tumbledown Mountain with them, and asks him to bring drugs. There is a
quiet intensity to these early scenes thatís unsettling, due in part to the
filmís score. The three of them climb the mountain, and that sequence has no
dialogue, just the score, and includes several pretty shots, including that of
a lake where the men swim. Back at the house, the men have a threesome, and
Rick stops Jay to make him put on a condom.
Later Ė June 18, 2010,
according to another on-screen title Ė Rick goes up to the camp to meet them
again, but is surprised to learn that Mike isnít there. Jay seems surprised
that Mike didnít travel with Rick, so clearly there is something amiss in that
relationship. And something is also amiss with Jay, who seems much creepier
than before. And thatís when things get weird.
Soon after that, oddly,
there is a title card saying that the film was inspired by actual events, but
that the names have been changed. Itís odd that itís placed partway through the
film, rather than at the beginning. It continues: ďThe three characters involved: Rick, Jay, and Mike all have their own
version of what happened. But what is the true story?Ē And: ďWe believe what we want to believe, we
remember what we want to remember, and we tell the version of the truth that we
want people to believe
Thatís interesting, but I
found myself wondering, Wait, is that it? The story goes no further? What came
before this feels like an incident that should propel us deeper into this story
rather than conclude it. But the tagline on the DVD case is ďThere are three sides to every story
and now the film goes back in time to tell it from Jayís perspective. Itís at
this point that the film loses some of its steam for me.
Fortunately, it doesnít
go all way back to their meeting at the bar, but picks its moments to retell.
We get more information, but of course now we wonder if any new information is
accurate. Maybe itís because weíve already established Rickís perspective as reality
(as far as we knew), but this second set of events doesnít seem nearly as
believable. Was that the intention of the filmmaker?
However, the sex scene
then seems quite believable, largely because itís allowed to play all the way
through. Itís actually quite unsettling, as it goes on for a bit and the camera
remains stationary. Then, even after the sex, the scene continues (from
different camera angles), as Jay fixes himself a snack, which is both creepy
and oddly endearing in a way.
Interestingly, Jay is
allowed to tell us part of his perspective in voice over, and it sounds like
heís speaking to a cop or judge.
As then as expected, we go
to Mikeís perspective of events, and his sequence begins in a new location,
with a woman asking him to tell his story. Oddly we then hear a bit of voice
over from Jay basically telling Mike what a mess he is, that heís a gay clichť,
turning to drugs and alcohol and so on. So are we really getting Mikeís
perspective, or only Mikeís take on what Jay thought of him? Itís interesting,
but it feels more interesting as filmmaking than as story (though the story is
allowed to continue forward more during Mikeís telling).
One minor problem with
the film is that the sound isnít always right. For example, there is a scene
where Rick gets a call at the bar from Jay. From the sound of Jayís voice, it
seems like he is standing just off camera, rather than on the other end of the
phone. We hear Jayís first couple of lines in this manner, and then suddenly we
donít hear his end of the conversation at all. A strange choice that feels more
like a mistake than deliberate.
By the way, though
earlier there are titles about this being based on true people and events, in
the end credits it says, ďThe story,
names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this motion picture are
Bonus Features
The DVD contains some
bonus material, including an alternate ending thatís approximately twenty-four
minutes. It begins with Rick and Mike making out. Some lines in this version
are cut, which I appreciate. Some things that are left open in the official
ending are shown in this alternate ending. And, interestingly, this ending goes
back to the filmís opening scene, and then beyond it, with Rick saying it was
just a bad dream.
There are a few deleted
scenes, including one of the three men doing drugs and fooling around in a
bathroom, another of Mike wandering around the city alone, and one of another
section of the alternate ending.
And there is an extended
sequence of the three men climbing the mountain and swimming in the lake.
Interestingly, at the lake you can hear voices of other people who were around,
and for one moment, you can see a bunch of people in the distance.
Tumbledown was released on October 8, 2013 through TLA Releasing.

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