“Death & Taxes” (2014) Film Review

Dir; Peter McCarthy.  Starring; Aaron Rhodes, Frank Abeyta, Lynn Goodwin.  NR.  Color.  92 min.
To preface my review, “Death & Taxes” is a movie I had the privilege to work on.  Director Peter McCarthy is the best teacher I could ever imagine having in film school, and in life.  Helping to make this film was a high point.  I have great respect for everyone that I worked with.  That being said, I will put on my honest film critic hat and tell you whether or not it is worth a watch.
“Death & Taxes” is great conceptually.  Due to the rise of cellular technology, the dead are rising.  Not as blood-sucking zombies, but as mute idiots who want to drink and have sex.  The initial societal response is shock and awe to see their loved ones risen from the grave.  It doesn’t take long before people see the dead as a burden.  After all, they aren’t paying their taxes.
Aaron Rhodes plays Harold Hoptuit, the first to come back from the afterlife.  After escaping his grave and grabbing some beer, he makes his way back to the family and the home he once knew.  His young daughter Claire (Aide Rodriguez) is ecstatic to see her father home.  His wife Judy (Lynn Goodwin), not so much.  She has moved on with Dr. Dave (Mike Ostroski).  Harold wants to find his way back into the life he once knew, and realizes maybe he doesn’t fit in anymore.
Mystery, slap-stick comedy, buddy movie, zombie movie.  It is hard to categorize a film like “Death & Taxes”.  This is the best part of the script (also written by Peter McCarthy), but ultimately the films curse.  It never finds it’s footing.  Do you want to be a dark comedy that comments on society?  Or do you want to be a silly romp that just wants to make people laugh?  McCarthy never fully commits either way.
The acting also leaves much to be desired.  Credit to star Aaron Rhodes for going full on Charlie Chaplin in a role where he does not say a word.  Mike Ostroski as the villainous Dr. Dave has fun with his character.  Other than that, it is an ensemble of over-actors and under-actors.
“Death & Taxes” has a lot of things going for it.  McCarthy, along with cinematographer Erick Castillo, understand how to construct a frame instead of just moving the camera around aimlessly.  The fact that it was made for under $10K is inspiring.  The concept is brilliant.  Unfortunately, the execution does not live up to what could have been a classic comedy.  Still, I recommend you check out “Death & Taxes”.  It is a worthy indie film.  I guarantee you will never see another movie quite like this.
Written by Byrd
Suck Factor: 3 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS)

Here is a link to watch “Death & Taxes” for yourself:


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