I Am Here…. Now (2009)

IAmHereNow1No, that’s not a typo in the title, the ellipsis in this movie has four periods instead of three. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

I Am Here…. Now is directorwriterproducerstar Neil Breen’s second film undertaking, smack dab between Double Down (2005) and the unforgettable Fateful Findings (2013). In this film, Breen is credited as ‘The Being,’ an all-powerful alien-robot-God-creature-thing who occasionally wears a cheap Halloween monster mask.  The film opens as ‘The Being’ falls to Earth from the sky in a magical orb, landing in the Nevada desert. Before we see him though, the camera holds on the shadow of a lone crucifix in the desert. Then Breen’s character finally appears, with blood-soaked holes in his feet that seem to imply he  was just up on that cross. This Christ-like imagery is about as subtle as Neil Breen can get because, after walking through a desert littered with unexplained doll heads, roses and more crosses, ‘The Being’ makes sweeping statements about how he created this planet – and humanity, for that matter – with certain expectations that have not been met. His wrath must be felt.

Now for some reason, ‘The Being’ has computer motherboards taped to his arms and chest when we first see him, only to have them vanish few shots later. So what is he? He came from space, or the heavens, and claims to have created humanity. He hangs from a cross. But he also has computer hardware attached to his arms. Is he a robot alien Jesus? Who the hell knows….

IAmHereNow8Bow down before me.

So of course Breen’s first priority on this new planet has to be confusing and nonsensical. For some reason ‘The Being’ discerns that he cannot be seen wearing his perfectly clean white robes that effectively cover his entire body. Instead,  he decides that before he can do anything to help the human race, he needs to change his outfit. What a diva, right? Oh, and who better to take clothes from than a couple of rednecks tailgating in the middle of the desert? That’s right, he trades his pristine white robes for a brown shirt with holes in it and faded jeans.

IAmHereNow3I guess he thinks this outfit will help him blend in with the citizens of Nevada more effectively.

In order to get the rednecks out of their clothes though, The Being has to use his almighty powers. He waves his glowing hand to freeze the people in place, so they can’t move while he undresses them. To accomplish this, Breen employs an interesting and effective filmmaking technique to create the illusion that the people are frozen in time so that his character can move freely around them. His innovative technique is to have the actors attempt to stand completely still. Of course, this doesn’t work, since there’s that slight shifting that always gives away what’s really going on.

ezgif.com-crop (2)Maybe he Jedi-mind tricked them into standing still.

So why has The Being returned to Earth after all these years? He has created the planet, vanished, and obviously didn’t see fit to come back until now. Thankfully, Breen never fails to deliver these answers with his long-winded opening monologues. His character is disappointed in humanity in general for using up the Earth’s natural resources and favouring corporate greed over preserving the longevity of the planet. That’s his sole issue with humanity. If we only relied on solar and wind energy rather than burning up our natural resources, The Being would have no reason to be there. Sure there are wars and famine, discrimination and corruption of all kinds, but those don’t matter. It’s not that his renewable energy point isn’t valid, it’s the broad generalisation this film makes when it claims that we as a species only have this one flaw that I can’t wrap my head around.

IAmHereNow9 He delivers his speech speaking to a skull in the desert. Hamlet-style classy.

And in case the message weren’t clear enough yet, after the monologue we are treated to a scene featuring four businessmen in a parked car on the Vegas strip, discussing their fiendishly evil plan to make more money by stopping solar power from becoming a mainstream energy source. They proclaim how proud they are of their corporate greed and revel in their slimy tactics. Breen clearly underestimates his audience’s perceptive powers, because even though the point is made by now, he continues to beat us over the head with his theme again and again. The evil businessmen scene is followed up immediately with this one:

Such tact. Who lays a person off in a public place, outside their office building?

In this scene Amber (Joy Senn) is laid off by her boss because of the poor economy and government corruption. And since these are women in a Neil Breen movie, none of them button up their tops or wear bras, and once they lose their jobs the only option available to them is to become strippers and escorts on the Vegas strip. No, really. After being laid off Amber is convinced by her twin sister Cindy (Elizabeth Sekora) to begin selling herself for money. It’s the only way Amber can afford to care for her baby, who is actually just a toy doll she pushes around in a stroller. With no other options, her desperation drives her to pursue prostitution, where a group of gangsters get in a gunfight over who sleeps with her first, and she attends a private pool party with her sister and one of the evil corporate schemers.

IAmHereNow4Siblings do everything together!

But what has ‘The Being’ been up to all this time, while the businessmen have been scheming and Amber was busy losing her inhibitions? Well he’s been helping an old wheelchair-bound man with cancer get his dying wish, of course! Yes, though his opening monologue clearly states he is there to fix the world’s energy crisis, he instead pushes a guy in a wheelchair around for a few days. Given only one month to live, the old man has one last ambition on his bucket list: to see the sign that says ‘Welcome to Las Vegas.’ Seems like a pathetic dying wish, but to each their own, I guess.

IAmHereNow5It looks like he’s having an orgasm.

So Breen takes him there, to the street sign he is so enamoured with. When some of the other tourists are mean to him because he is in a wheelchair, The Being uses the freeze technique again so that the man in the wheelchair can just… stare at the sign.  Why is he so in awe of this thing? He’s dying and THIS is all he wants to do with his time? And why does The Being care that this guy sees it?

And it doesn’t end there with the wheelchair guy. Actually, I wish I could call him by something other than ‘the wheelchair guy,’ but since the credits fail to give him a name I don’t have one for him. This guy gets a ton of screentime but Breen never bothered to name his character. Anyway, The Being continues to take this guy around town and together they see Amber, pushing her doll-baby in its stroller.

The Being uses his powers to make the old man in the wheel chair a handsome young man again. He looks to the revitalized man and says, ‘go to her. Live a long, happy, healthy life.’ So the wheelchair guy, now young and sexy, is able to stand and walk over to Amber. Together the two of them walk off, arm and arm, happily ever after. That’s the last we see of both Amber and the man in the wheelchair.

IAmHereNow7‘Hey, uh, do you like street signs? They’re kinda my thing.’

This doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. If Amber couldn’t get by before, how is a seventy year old man in a twenty year old’s body going to help her? She was already struggling to care for her baby so much that she resorted to prostitution. But we’re expected to believe that all changed because she has a man next to her? The old man doesn’t have a job or source of income, so how does he make her life better? If anything Amber now has to work harder to support an extra person. It’s also creepy that this elderly man with a lifetime of experiences is deceiving this younger woman by not telling her is real age. The implication that she is immediately happier because there’s a man in her life is so superficial. This film is telling us that as long as two young good looking people are hanging out together, they will be happy forever. And once again, this pursuit in no way furthers The Being’s plan to fix the energy crisis, so why does he even help them in the first place?

Now after this, the movie goes on repeat when Amber’s sister, Cindy the self-proclaimed ‘environmental activist,’ is laid off outside the same building Amber was, and for the same reason: there’s just not enough money for their environmental endeavors due to corporate greed and corruption. Now wait, let’s backtrack here – when we first meet Cindy, she is Amber’s wild sister who talks her into whoring herself out in the first place. Is this a flashback? Are we in the past now? Maybe it’s the story of how Cindy became the person she was at the beginning of the film. After losing her job, she discusses her options with her boyfriend, and the dialogue between them becomes  inner monologue in the middle of their conversation without warning. Cindy considers turning to prostitution or stripping to make money, even though at the beginning of the film, she is already a prostitute. If only Neil Breen would come along and give her an old wheel-chair bound elderly man to love. That’s the only true solution to her problem.

Or is it? Instead of a crippled man, The Being himself sleeps with Cindy. And to make things super intimate and meaningful, he does while wearing his cheap Halloween mask.

IAmHereNow6 It’s unclear when and how this happened, since shots of this scene are intercut throughout the film, including in the opening moments, immediately after Breen lands on the planet.

So after wandering around aimlessly doing pointless things that will never help his cause, from pushing a wheelchair around to sleeping with prostitutes, ‘The Being’ finally gets his act together in the end, selecting six corrupt one-percenters (including corporate leaders, politicians and lawyers) from Las Vegas and strapping them up on six crosses in the desert where he landed in the beginning of the film. His work is finished he says, having condemned these six people. Now he will leave and give humanity one more chance to redeem itself. If they fail to do so, he will return and reduce everything to dust. The human race has one more chance to rely on the sustainability of solar and wind power to protect the planet’s resources. I guess these six people he condemned were solely responsible for the corruption and pollution of the natural resources for the entire planet. He sacrifices them all on the crosses and prepares to leave.

Before he does though, Cindy chases him to the desert, begging him to take her wherever he is going. He refuses to take her with him, and leaves her in the desert. Collecting his magical orb, he vanishes forever.

I’d describe I Am Here…. Now as a noble failure. The movie may be terrible but at least Breen had a point he was trying to make. A lot of b-movie filmmakers don’t ever bother with messages or themes. As we saw in Double Down and Fateful Findings, a lot of similar ideas crop up across all of Breen’s projects. Across all his films we see his obsession with magical rocks and orbs. In this movie he uses what looks to be a snowglobe as the device allowing him to travel to and from his home planet.

I’d also like to speculate that Neil Breen may be really lonely, based on the way relationships often play out in his films. His characters always seem to be haunted by a past relationship they can’t let go of. The most common and obvious narrative strain in each of his films though is the importance of thwarting corruption in corporate and political systems. His hated for  unscrupulousness is a reoccurring theme in every one of his films. He is very much an activist lobbying for change. I believe he thinks his messages are profound, and with his films he will change the world. A valiant effort, but he only gets the participation award in this contest.

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