Fateful Findings is, well, a fateful finding. I’m so freakishly fortunate to have fatefully found a film so fruitfully fun and fantastically frenzied. I faithfully feel this fine failure of a feature will forever find my funnybone and… uhhh… fuck it, I’m out of ‘f’ words. I’ll let the trailer speak for itself. Trust me though, you don’t want to miss this one.
It’s got magical rocks. Thick books perched on gold-painted lampstands. Drugs and alcohol abuse. Car accidents. International government and corporate secrets…. from around the world. Computer hacking. Long lost love. Magic mushrooms. These are just a few of the endless non-sequitur narrative strains viewers will fatefully find in Fateful Findings, a film written, produced, directed by and starring filmmaker Neil Breen. An outstanding performer, Breen is raising the bar when it comes to delivering clunky, repetitious dialogue in the most wooden ways imaginable. Some people are calling him the next Tommy Wiseau. Is that a fair comparison? Let’s find out. Strap in everyone.
Now THAT is a special effect. Move over George Lucas.
This movie opens as two children, Dylan (Jack Batoni) and Leah (Brianna Borden), frolic joyously through an open field. They come across a mushroom by a tree and kneel next to it. Wow, what an exciting discovery! As they stare at the mushroom, they remain frozen in place as the fungus slowly fades away, turning into a jewelry box containing a black rock and some beads. The children fail to notice an ethereal whistling as a white ghost-like mist floats through the field. Dylan takes the rock and Leah takes the beads to make a bracelet. They bury the box, and it somehow turns back into a mushroom.
Now, you may be wondering, ‘what does this all mean? What is the significance of the rock, and the beads? How did the mushroom disappear?’ Well, don’t dwell on it too much, because the movie is kind enough to never provide an answer. While there are clues as to what the black rock might be, it’s never given a complete explanation.
Soon after their discovery, Dylan and Leah are tragically separated, as star-crossed lovers are want to be. With Leah moving away, all that remains of their relationship is a black rock and a beaded bracelet. I’ve never seen something so heartbreaking.
A fond yet forlorn farewell fatigued with foreboding fretfulness.
Years later, when an older Dylan (Neil Breen) is hit by a car, he lies on the ground suffering, reaching for that same black rock. He’s held onto it for all these years for some reason. Some bystanders call him an ambulance and mull about. One of them claims that he saw the whole thing, that he’s witness, as if his testimony is going to be necessary. It’s not a hit and run case; the driver stopped and remained at the scene. Witnesses really aren’t needed here.
What’s odd in his sequence that we never see the driver’s face, just a backseat passenger’s torso as she gets out to examine the body. The driver never returns at any point in the film to apologize for the accident. Why didn’t the driver get out of the car after hitting him? He doesn’t even check to make sure the guy is okay. Details like this are often overlooked in this picture, leaving a lot of subplots open-ended and incomplete.
I’m a witness, I saw it! The Rolls Royce did it! You know, the car stopped right next to the body. The one covered in blood. You’re welcome, detectives!
Dylan’s wife Emily (Klara Landrat) and best friend Jim (David Silva) rush to the hospital to check on him. Things don’t look good for Dylan. When the head of neurology (Jennifer Autry) comes in to change his IV, the bracelet on her wrist looks strikingly similar to the one young Leah made from the mushroom beads. But Leah and Dylan are supposed to be the same age, and this girl is visibly much younger than Dylan. There’s no way that neurologist could be Leah, right? Nah. That would be ridiculous.
Later that night Dylan wakes up, his face covered in bandages. Despite his injuries, he climbs out of his hospital bed and, after flashing a gratuitous shot of his ass, walks out of the hospital unchallenged in his patient robes. The next time we see him he’s back at home, taking a shower with the bandages still on his face. Are we supposed to believe he left the hospital and made it all the way home without being questioned by anyone? After he leaves his hospital room, someone with black dress shoes walks into the room, only to disappear into thin air.
A ghost maybe? Or a janitor. It’s really not clear…
Now I can’t be sure, but I think the implication is that the black stone has magical properties that gives Dylan certain abilities. He recovers so quickly from his brutal head trauma thanks to the rock. Later in the film, he is shown to have the ability to teleport. Even as I’m writing this, I can’t say what happened during the hospital scene with any degree of certainty. Either he managed to walk home in the hospital robes or he found his clothes and teleported across town. After he leaves his room, the ghost mist from the first scene makes a brief appearance, and the mystery person wearing black shoes walks in, then vanishes. These shoes make multiple appearances throughout the film, but their significance is never made clear. I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be Dylan teleporting around, or someone else with the same power who is following him. And if someone is following him, WHY? Answer my questions, movie. Whose feet were in those shoes?
So once he has recovered enough from his head injury, Dylan gets back to work. The way Dylan sees it, he’s wasting his computer science degree working as a novelist. He hates every moment of his life. Maybe that’s because he works with four laptops and he never turns any of them on. How can he save anything he’s typing if his computers are always off?!
Here at OhHaiTrebor.com, we proudly use the same printer as Neil Breen.
Time to start humming the mission impossible theme folks. So instead of writing the novel, Dylan decides to use his computer hacking skills to expose national and international government and corporate secrets. And once again, I don’t know how he pulls this off with four laptops with dead batteries, but at least he is kind enough to declare his intentions out loud so any audiences listening in will know what he’s up to.
Now, there is one sequence of events where this film that actually deserves some credit. Shortly after the head injury, Dylan decides not to take his medication anymore. He dumps his pills in a very disgusting-looking unwashed toilet. When Dylan fails to flush them though, Emily reaches in and scoops the pills out of the toilet with her bare hands. Now when I first saw this scene my reaction was to run to my own washroom to puke, but once I got over that I assumed Emily was so worried about her husband taking his prescription that she reached into the toilet and rescued those pills. It’s not until later in the film that we realize she had been taking the drugs herself because she’s an addict. From a movie like this, I was a little blown away. The filmmaker withheld information to make Emily appear protective and worried, only to reveal her more selfish intentions later on. This is a pretty decent example of set-up and pay-off being used to effectively develop a character. Well done!
But things take a turn for the worse when Dylan finds out Emily has been taking his pills, and the two of them get into a big argument. Fortunately for Dylan, there’s always make up sex after a fight.
Rip that shirt, Breen!
To celebrate Dylan’s recovery, he and Emily host a barbecue pool party for all their friends, including Jim and his wife Amy (Victoria Viveiros), and Jim’s daughter Aly (Danielle Andrade). Jim shows his true colors at the party when he drunkenly knocks over one of the tables containing all of their food. He’s a careless drunk, that much is clear.
The neurologist from the hospital is also in attendance; the woman with the bracelet. When Dylan and the doctor get to talking, the young woman accidentally drops a book on the ground. Dylan picks it up for her, immediately recognizing it as Leah’s diary, the same book his childhood girlfriend wrote in that day they discovered the mushroom.
You mean the book that fell out of my pocket? Yes, as a matter of fact, that is mine!
It’s pretty impressive he can remember a child’s notebook that well. And it turns out to be true, Leah confirms that she is in fact the same person, and that for some reason she carries her childhood diary with her everywhere she goes. The two of them instantly reconnect, holding hands as they reminisce about old times. It seems instead of growing up and getting over it, they both have been dwelling on a relationship they shared when they were eight years old.
I guess the stone also made him age more rapidly than she did.
So as I’ve mentioned, the film goes off on a number of tangents that aren’t fully explored to completion. There are too many subplots that are introduced, then simply glossed over or ignored. The biggest example of this is the home life of Dylan and Emily’s best friends: married couple Amy and Jim and Jim’s teenage daughter, Aly. Jim is a terrible drunk, always begging his wife for sex with his daughter in earshot. He spends most of his time drinking in the garage, working on his car. When Amy can’t take it any more, she takes a gun from her bedroom and shoots Jim down in the garage. Amy stages the scene to look like a suicide.
When Dylan shows up, he’s in a true state of shock. He says ‘I can’t believe you committed suicide’ to Jim’s corpse at least seven times, all while rubbing Jim’s blood all over his face.
It looks like Jim dies from a shot that barely grazed his ear.
Later on, Aly visits Dylan at his house. After coming onto the him in a very forward and creepy way, she admits to him that she knows the truth. She knows her step-mom shot her father. Dylan tells her that she has to tell the police what happened, and then the scene ends. After that, we never see or hear anything about either Amy or Aly for the remainder of the film. Was Jim’s murderer put to justice? This subplot will forever remain unresolved.
Instead of answering these questions, the film focuses instead on Dylan’s courtship of Leah. Together they travel to their childhood neighborhood, revisiting the field where they first found the mushroom. And wouldn’t you know it, the thing is still there, in the exact same spot, and it’s the exact same size. Don’t mushrooms… grow? I mean, it’s been thirty years. The two of them consummate their relationship right there by the mushroom. This passionate embrace is tastefully intercut with Emily overdosing on pills, alone in her room. When Dylan comes home to discover his wife’s body, he really doesn’t seem too concerned. Her death is pretty convenient actually, since he can date Leah exclusively now.
Now this is where things start to get weird. Some time after the death of his wife, Dylan gets up in the middle of the night, leaving Leah alone in bed. He drives out to a field in the middle of nowhere, where three ninjas fade in for a moment, only to vanish almost instantly. They leave behind a thick golden book. I have no idea what this book is, but it does appear at regular intervals throughout the film, along with the ghostly white floating mist. I suspect scenes like this are trying to be smart or metaphorical but they come across more vague and confusing.
‘Should I be afraid?’ Dylan asks. A better question might be, ‘Where am I and what the hell is going on?’
Dylan’s therapist also vanishes, after heavily implying that she may be a ghost. So when she vanishes, it looks exactly the same as Dylan does when he teleports. Does that make Dylan a ghost too? Did he die in the car accident at the beginning? Is the black shoes guy also a ghost? I’m so confused!
When he gets back to his house, the black shoes walk into his bedroom, where blood drops on them for a while before they just vanish again. Leah wakes up the next morning to find what appears to be mini cheerleader pom-poms on her chest. When she asks Dylan what they are he tells her, it’s just something a friend dropped off last night while we were sleeping. What does that mean?! Is the walking pair of shoes a friend? One of the three ninjas maybe? This is just baffling.
I’ve announced this press conference so you can all know this movie is driving me insane.
At the end of the film, Dylan is finally ready to reveal the big corporate and government secrets he’s hacked into. He announces them at a press conference in front of a very realistic backdrop. As he’s announcing his findings, senators and CEOs alike step forward and admit their faults to world. Every single one of them then commits suicide in their own creative way. I guess Breen is saying here that there is no cure for corruption, and instead of giving these people a chance at redemption they should all just go kill themselves. Such a compassionate cap to a bizzare story.
During Dylan’s speech, a man in the bushes has a gun trained on him, poised to shoot. Then we hear a gunshot, and the man falls over dead. But we never find out who it was that shot the man trying to shoot Dylan. I just hate when people leave things unresolv-
Finally, not that I’m complaining, but it appears this film takes place in a universe where bras don’t exist.
Around the web people have been comparing this film to The Room while calling Neil Breen the next Tommy Wiseau. There’s no denying that these two filmmakers both tried to make their films amazing works of art, only to fail miserably. But is Breen really the next Wiseau? I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. Neil Breen appears to be a more competent filmmaker than Tommy Wiseau; though they both have vastly different shooting styles.
You see, Tommy Wiseau had sets built, bought cameras and hired a professional crew. Breen appears to have shot guerrilla-style, wherever people would let him; I’m guessing the majority of his sets were simply his own home or perhaps a friend or family members’. Unlike Tommy, Breen wasn’t restricted by having two huge cameras strapped to a mount, and he and could get more creative with the visuals as a result. I see a bit more style in Breen’s work. The Room primarily takes place on three sets and doesn’t do much with the visuals; Fateful Findings takes more chances with camera angles and special effects, and while it rarely works, it’s still a great effort.
Other than his Homeless in America documentary, The Room is the only feature film Tommy Wiseau has ever directed. Anything Tommy has been involved in since then has been too self-aware or silly to be considered good-bad. Look the Pig-Man video, the Tommy Wi-Show, or especially the sitcom The Neighbors. Every character in Neighbors wears clothing from the Tommy Wiseau clothing line, and with unintelligible dialogue and nonsensical stories, the series is more an advertisement for his products than a sincere attempt at filmmaking. Tommy doesn’t seem to care as much about making movies as he does making money.
Fateful Findings, on the other hand, is Neil’s third film in ten years. With each project he works on he gets a little better. Neil seems to have some understanding of story structure and tries to use things like set-up and pay-off. While he’s not always successful, he at least (sort of) understands film language. What I like most about Breen is that he’s going to keep at it; I think we’re going to get a lot more funny content out of him in the years to come. In fact, his latest project, Pass Thru, is currently in post-production. Wiseau on the other hand has pretty much run his course. I love The Room and have seen it countless times, but I don’t think he’ll ever make anything like it ever again. And that, to me, is a tragedy worse than losing me underwears.