Billy Ray Brewton’s 2016 film Show Yourself shouldn’t be easy to write a scathing review about. It is a likable movie, as far as I’m concerned. On top of that, none of the acting strikes me as being bad. However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t drag at points, and to say it never chases its own tail. The story is very simple. It’s about a guy named Travis (Ben Hethcoat) who’s taking time to scatter the ashes of his buddy, Paul (Clancy McCartney), who committed suicide.
He’s hanging out in a cabin, fully intent on scattering the ashes through the natural world around him. In the process of grieving, Travis calls his other pal, Lane (Barak Hardley), who alternately consoles and annoys him. Travis also communicates with his obviously soon-to-be-ex, Nikki (Corsica Wilson). However, as the story progresses, we have reason to wonder, is Paul really dead? And if Paul is dead, how does one explain what’s happening to Travis?
Things I Liked
The characters seem real enough, one supposes. There are some fairly creepy ideas in this movie, too. There is some decent scenery, and it’s well shot. I also commend the film for not trying too hard to be a conventional “horror” film. In fact, it probably barely counts as horror. While extreme movies can be a hoot, sometimes it’s refreshing to see restraint. It seems like Billy Ray Brewton had an idea and didn’t let it be swallowed up by trends or conventions.
It also helps that Show Yourself relies on universal themes of love, loss and conflicting emotions throughout its coarse. That way, even if one’s not necessarily amazed by the film, they may still identify with it on some level. I feel weird typing this, but there’s also a weird surprise for Tim & Eric fans: Barak Hardley looks a hell of a lot Eric Wareheim, at least at first glance.
Things I Didn’t Like
As I said, Show Yourself is a likable film, so I won’t bother criticizing it too much. It drags on at times, though. It is also yet another film where a guy only has semi-pals. While this can be realistic, the whole “We insult our buddies all the time” thing gets a little played out as the movie goes along. More generally, many horror movies forget that some people are actually kind to each other without the near-constant sarcasm going on. In that sense, this movie can come off as seeming clichéd.
Also, this is probably my own jaded, teetotaler/”straight edge” bias, but it would be refreshing to see a dramatic character who doesn’t drown his/her sorrows in booze or drugs. In fact, a sober character might have even heightened the psychological horror aspects of the film, as opposed to making us wonder if it’s something drug/alcohol-related. I’m sure some people would find those critiques strange, but it’s my honest opinion.
In summation, I would say Show Yourself probably won’t disappoint you, if you’re open to examining a grieving character. There are far worse slices of cinema out there, and this one blazes its own path. Still, you won’t like this if your horror films require blood and guts to be enjoyed.
What do you think about Show Yourself? Let us know in the comments!