This film goes directly onto my list of scariest films of all time … and it’s all true, not a drop of blood or an act of violence in it. A gay man named Jonathan Caouette grew up in Texas in a family that you’d need to invent a new word for; dysfunctional just doesn’t cover it. His mother was subjected to years of shock treatment and a lithium overdose, and is now a giggling, bipolar, delusional horror show. His grandparents who raised him are pretty scary, too. By the age of 10 he is acting out amazing psychodramas for his movie camera, and making weekly suicide attempts not much later. Somehow he struggles through all this, and is managing to live an almost normal and very productive life.
The technique here is almost as important as the ghastly story. It is a filmic collage of pictures, film clips, voice recordings, and music. Astonishingly, it was made entirely on a Mac, with free software, for what the director claims was a total of $218. (It took about a hundred grand more to clear the rights on all the music and clips, and make a theatrical release print.) It is a kaleidoscope of images, it employs ALL of the techniques that annoy the hell out of me and Lee when used in other contexts, just to show off, but here it all works. Most directors shake the camera just because they think it’s cool. Caouette does it to indicate disorganization, madness, chaos, which is what his story is about. But it is all under total control.