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[Review] Man in a box (DynaCore Films, 2014)

Being haunted by something that happened in your past – everyone of us knows that feeling. Mostly small things, that we keep asking ourselves about: How would my life have turned out, if I had chosen otherwise?
For Lloyd (Kevin Eugene Davis), the main protagonist of DynaCore Films’ production „Man in a box“, his past is constantly present in his everyday life. 20 years ago he shot his whole family – consisting of his father, his mother and his younger sister Nakya. In the beginning the viewer knows nothing about the circumstances under which the crime happened. We just see, that Lloyd is traumatized and therefore brought into a mental health institution. He begins to be haunted by the only victim he really cared about and who wasn’t intended to die: his sister Nakya. He hears her voice, he even sees her physical form at times. When it gets bad and he needs to be calmed down his psychologist Dr. Sanders (A. Michelle Harleston) puts a cardboard box over his head – obviously soothing him. But Lloyd relies on something else to stay sane and to strengthen himself – religion and God.

Lloyd (Kevin Eugene Davis) on his way back to life
Lloyd (Kevin Eugene Davis) on his way back to life

After being a patient in the institution for 20 years, Lloyd is released from his prison. The only family member he can go to is Ryan (Michael Galante), his cousin, who is quite happy to welcome him in his house. Only his wife Kaitlyn (Chelsea Marino) isn’t.
Just a couple of days before Lloyd comes into the family Ryan himself gets involved in criminal activities by stealing drugs from a customer of his security-related business.

Official trailer:

The whole plot is too complex to write it down in a short summary, so I’ll just tell you what I thought:

Protagonist:

I like the idea behind the movie – the young boy, traumatized, finding a way back into life as an adult. The portrayal of Lloyd is something I really grew fond of. In the beginning the adult Lloyd seems to be a bit mentally impaired, behaves a lot like a child would. Of course this is, because he has not had an impression of the world outside for 20 years. He needs to get accustomed to it again. As he does, he manages to get a job, manages to get back to life, to regain a status he’s never had. To finally become a man and make his own decisions.
Kevin Eugene Davis brings the character to life in a very nice way, showing his flaws and his strengths. The transformation he goes through is portrayed very well and one can sense, that Kevin Davis based part of his acting on real life experiences.
In the end the „Man in a box“ becomes a „Man with a mission“ – a very much religious motivated mission, which on the one hand seems understandable (because of the course things take), which on the other hand isn’t a thing any of us would do just now. Religion doesn’t mean violence and religion doesn’t mean fighting violence with violence. But this is the way Lloyd seems to see it. And as he understands, that God, the church and the bible have been his only support throughout the years, he wants to give something in return. Mercy? No. Justice? Yes, from his point of view.
While watching the movie I went through some kind of character-rollercoaster. I started with being not so fond of Lloyd – he shot his family, isn’t mentally stable at all and behaves very, very strangely by quoting different bible verses as an answer to almost every single question. In the middle of the movie I thought: wow, he’s made it, he’s safe. Maybe a bit obsessed by religion, but safe and cosy connecting his world and the world outside. The flashbacks explaining the incident with his family made it wasier to like the character. At the end I started doubting him. As I said: I can understand, what he does and to a certain degree I see the justice he wants to achieve – but on the other hand it just doesn’t seem right for him to not only believe, but also becoming a „warrior in the name of the Lord“.

Behind the scenes; shooting "Man in a box"
Behind the scenes; shooting “Man in a box”

Plot:
To be honest I think the movie could have been a whole lot shorter. For example I could have completely lived without the side strand of the serial killer – I know he gets important in the end, but I would not have minded, if this part would have been left out. From my point of view it doesn’t add much to the story; the movie would have made its point without it.
Mainly there are three strands of plot in there, getting all connected in the end through the main character.

Technical details:
The whole movie has the atmosphere of a documentary, which I guess was targeted at. The events seem to really happen and the making reminds me of some daily documentaries on crime fighting and living in general.
The audio quality isn’t that good. Unfortunately I could not understand all of the dialogues, because they were too quiet. For example, when music was playing in the background.

Conclusion:

„Man in a box“, written and directed by Kevin Eugene Davis, is a documentary-style movie, which shows the way back. The way back into life as well as the way back into ‘old’ habits. It is an intense story with intense characters and a lot of passion.
The story circles around the main-protagonist Lloyd, whose journey is well portrayed and well thought-through. In fact the many characters he and the viewer meet along the way are brought to life with so much passion and dedication. I especially liked disliking the ‘villain’ Sonny (Warren Hub).

Short break from intense filming: Chelsea Marino (Kaitlyn), Warren Hub (Sonny) and Michael Galante (Ryan)
Short break from intense filming: Chelsea Marino (Kaitlyn), Warren Bub (Sonny) and Michael Galante (Ryan)

This is truly a debut film, that is worth watching. Okay, there are a few things I would criticize (like the audio quality, a few small logical errors or jumps in the plot). But being honest: there’s always something to criticize. But seeing someone like Kevin Eugene Davis being so dedicated to realize one of his dreams and to show people a lot of himself, that just makes up for anything else.
This movie is different in many ways. It’s not the ‘normal’ format of a movie, but more of a documentary-like style. It makes it a little less emotional, but pretty realistic.
The story mentions and touches many problems, that exist in everyday life and that should be solved in any way – although this is probably never going to happen. Drug use, abuse,dealing, lack of money (and what people do for money), family bonds (and missing ones) and a whole lot more.
Personally I would have loved to see a bit more of the psychological part, maybe even criticism of the existing system or a deeper delve into the crime elements.
But all in all it’s fun to watch and to think about it. About the meaning of religion, about the how easy a passion can become an obsession, about how much a mere moment can change the course of our future.

P.S.: Congratulations to the whole team for being awarded with several movie awards! Kudos! Wanna see more of the “Man in a box”? Go visit the Facebook page of DynaCore Films or the movie page itself. Leave a like and a nice comment!

Directed by
Kevin Eugene Davis

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Kevin Eugene Davis (writer)
Ryan Nage
Tom Peeler (co-writer)

Cast
Michael Galante as Ryan
Bobby T as Harold
Warren Bub as Sonny
A. Michelle Harleston as Dr. Sanders
Taj Johnson as Thug #1
Tim Duquette as Father McMurphy
Christopher Weite as Nurse Anderson
Corey Klinefelter as Joe
Chelsea Marino as Kaitlyn
Ava Groves as Mary
Ryan Moore as Homeless Man
Kevin Eugene Davis as Lloyd
Eric Farmer as Serial Killer
Carolyn Seibert as Grandma
Damian A. Dziura Sr. as Bones
Anthony Cutro as Solicitor
Melody Tanouye as Lia
Jer Tobin as Rodger
Gerald Prince as Father of child in Park
Kristen Kenzakoski as Mother of child in park
Kev Idgaf Allen as Thug #2
Jody Dempsey Cain as Officer Smith
James Caceres as C
James Paul O’Hora as John
Joseph Schultz as Vandal #1
Alexcia Quinones as Screaming Lady in Motel
B.F. Magagna as Uniformed police officer
Sean Fryer as Male nurse in Blue Scrubs
Nick Naro as Vandal #2
Jason Mckeown as Drug buyer
Najeeb Bilal as Lloyd as a child
Salice Fagaly as Girlfriend to Thug #1
Kevin Dragwa as Bruno
Elizabeth Nardone as Daisy
Brianna Davis as Nakaya
Trish Thompson as Older man beaten up
Sabbo Brown as Comic
Nyce Issac as Slim
Kyle Stover as Co Worker
Aaron Gonzales as Teenage bully at park
Rudy Goodwin as J Roc
Stephanie Jacklyn Mcgraw as Girlfriend to thug #2
Brie Nicole as Lady in Red
Darnell Corley as Teenage Bully
Troy Hatfield as Strip Club Patron ordering beer
Richard Rose as Vandal #3
Amy Drayton as Drug Addict
Ryan Nage as Officer Clark
J. Domenic DeMuro as Interviewer (as Joe Domenic DeMuro)
Sarah Zoppi as Detective Parker
Austin Cain as Todd
Alisha Ozehoski as Tara
Katrina Sapiego as Waitress at coffee shop
Anthony Arcure as Detective Simmons
Francescha Slick as Cindy
Alexcia Quinones as Screaming girl in hotel
Krystal Derhammer as Kendra
Kevin Neary as Walter
Heidi Lynn Dykins as Lady in Black
Zander W. Feist as little Ryan
Lorelei Sands as Roseanne

Produced by
Krista Bartosch … producer
Kevin Eugene Davis … executive producer
Brandon M. Freer … producer
Joe Angel Rodriguez … co-producer

Music by
Adam V. Jones

Cinematography by
Andrew Pizzo

Film Editing by
Brandon M. Freer

Casting By
Donna Cain
Makeup Department

Sean Fryer … makeup artist
Shannan Grzenda … makeup artist
Carolyn Seibert … makeup artist
Sarah Zoppi … makeup artist

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jerry Cunningham … assistant director

Sound Department
Brandon M. Freer … sound designer / sound editor
Adam V. Jones … dialogue editor / foley artist / sound designer / sound editor / sound effects editor

Visual Effects by
Brandon M. Freer … digital effects

Camera and Electrical Department
Anthony Cutro … assistant camera
J. Domenic DeMuro … lighting technician (as Joe Domenic DeMuro)
Ashley Donato … assistant camera
Michael Fasciana … camera operator
David Gaiardo … still photographer
Cody Mater … camera operator
Jer Tobin … key grip

Casting Department
Kevin Eugene Davis … executive in charge of casting

Other crew
Leala Arnold … script supervisor
Mary Cain … craft service
Anthony Cutro … production assistant
Corinne Davis … craft service
Corrie Davis … craft service
Joy Davis … craft service
Sally Edwards … craft service
Robert Fredrick … production assistant
May Hollinger … script supervisor
Bobby Light … production assistant
Kyle Stover … production assistant
Daniel Stumpf … production assistant
Trisha Thompson … production assistant
Jer Tobin … production assistant

Pictures courtesy of Kevin Eugene Davis / DynaCore Films

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