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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
by Garon Cockrell
DVD Review: Tumbledown
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Comment
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

fictitious








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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