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Grimmfest 2019 Review: Tone-Deaf – “A fun movie with a silly satirical take on current America”

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Tone-Deaf is a satirical horror movie about the ongoing “culture wars” in the US. It’s about this young liberal woman, Olive (Amanda Crew) who has just lost her job and decides to get out of the city for a while. She rents a room in a house that’s owned by this redneck, Harvey, who obviously does not share her values.

Played by Robert Patrick, a great and underused actor, Harvey has clearly got some issues. He Googles his prospective lodger, and spots a photo of her with a sign reading “This Pussy Grabs Back” presumably at the Woman’s March which was the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. There are plenty of winks to the audience about their obvious differences, and as you can imagine, Harvey is not the nicest person in the world. But before you know it, people are getting knocked off, strange things start happening in the house, and she is being terrorised by a landlord who turns out to be more than just your typical MAGA moron.

As the film begins, Olive has just split up from her douchey hipster boyfriend. He still needs to grab a box of his stuff, and we see on top his “original scroll version “of On the Road. which tells you all you need to know. Her mom is in a commune, where her brain has turned to mush from taking too much acid, and where she has a young lover who is the same age as her daughter. Her dad is played by Ray Wise (who’s in all of these small indie horror movies these days), best known from playing Leland Palmer, Laura’s abusive father in Twin Peaks, who is doing his “creepy dad” thing here as well.

It’s a fun movie, with a silly satirical take on current America. There are some surreal elements based on Harvey’s weird dreams, which involve a recurrent motif of androgynous people in blue rubber suits coming after him which shows his perceived horror of his place in society slipping away and being overtaken by these non-binary millennials!

It was certainly one of the better films to play at Grimmfest this year. You could make a case that the politics aren’t too clever, though, because it shows everyone in rural America are just these dumb Trump-supporting hicks or just messed up on drugs. For example, Olive goes to a car wash and they don’t actually wash cars much, they just sell drugs. Olive ends up going back and buying some acid. The film really hinges on Patrick’s performance, and it’s great to see him in a decent-sized role. He deserves more than just being known as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

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