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Fantastic Fest 2023: Crumb Catcher Cleans Up Nicely

Bingo Bongo up the Congo!

Image courtesy of Exile PR

Have you ever sat down to write a review, but as you sit down your stomach starts to rumble? Naturally, you’d get up and go grab a bag of plain saltine crackers. You sit back down and chow down on half the sleeve of crackers. Ahh, time to write. That’s when you notice your laptop is surrounded by crumbs from all of the crackers! You could move your laptop and take all of that time away from your writing to clean up the table. But that takes so much time away from your writing! If that scenario sounds all too familiar to you well then tell you about a revolutionary product…

Crumb Catcher is the directorial feature debut for writer/director Chris Skotchdopole, with a story by Chris Skotchdopole, Rigo Garay, and my idol Larry Fessenden. Skotchdopole has crafted an odd, yet ultimately charming, psychological horror film that wears its heart on its sleeve. The description of the film lays out the basic plot for you, but it really doesn’t do the film justice. Crumb Catcher is absurdly macabre and doesn’t stop telling a twisting tale of intrigue until the credits roll. Anything that Larry Fessenden is in or is a part of in any way will always appeal to me, and that continues to be solidified with Crumb Catcher.

On the day that changes their lives forever, publisher Leah (Ella Rae Peck) and writer Shane (Rigo Garay) tie the knot; the release of Shane’s book, a self-reflecting collection of stories from his childhood, is on the horizon. Soon after arriving at a lake house for their honeymoon, they are quickly interrupted by John (John Speredakos), one of the servers from their wedding reception. His thinly veiled excuse for his arrival breaks when John reveals he wants to pitch an invention to Shane, though the reasons for the pitch are soon brought to light. John’s wife Rose (Lorraine Farris) is brought in to assist with the pitch, and then the night gets… messy.

See from that description you’re probably thinking, “Oh yeah I know what direction that film is going to take!”. I can assure you you’re wrong. Never in your wildest dreams could you guess what this film is going to throw at you. While Crumb Catcher was initially an extremely enjoyable film, after learning the film is Chris Skotchdopole’s feature debut I looked at it in a whole new light. The tonal shifts in Crumb Catcher completely caught me off guard for the right reasons. For a filmmaker with four or five films in their filmography, the ability to tell a story with so many different tones while keeping the auteur’s style is challenging enough. But when your debut feature effortlessly changes tone and you still keep a consistent and incredibly strong style—now that is quite a feat. My first takeaway from this film is that I need to see more from Chris Skotchdopole, and I won’t rest until I do.

Poster for Crumb Catcher
Image courtesy of Exile PR

The relationship between Leah and Shane is rocky at best, even for a couple on their wedding day. Ella Rae Peck is phenomenal and she really steals every scene she is in, and the chemistry, good and bad, she creates with Rigo Garay is phenomenal. Rigo Garay was fantastic in The Leech, and he also had a great four-episode arc in Law & Order, so I was excited to see him in another project. The way he feeds off his scene partners is like a charismatic parasite. Garay takes what his scene partners give him and runs a marathon with it. While the scenes between Peck and Garay carry the emotional weight of the film, it’s when Garay and John Speredakos interact that the film takes a whole different angle.

Speredakos brings an awkward charm and intensity to the film and eats up the scenery every chance he gets. At the wedding venue he seems like an idiosyncratic throwaway character, but when he injects himself into their lives and makes himself the problem, this is where he really takes off. Thinking back on the film, I’m not even sure if he blinked once. He’s the living embodiment of a basement invented on day eight of a cocaine bender. Where the beauty of his performance really lies is when the film turns from quirky dark comedy to a tense psychological and emotional thriller. John Speredakos has proven himself time and time again to be an incredible actor; from films like The Mind’s Eye to I Sell The Dead, Speredakos leaves it all on the table and takes no prisoners. It just so happens that if you want to see Ella Rae Peck, Rigo Garay, and John Speredakos together again on screen you can catch them in the new Larry Fessenden film Blackout.

I almost forgot one important thing. The editing of Crumb Catcher is solid throughout the entire film, though one scene particularly struck me hard. Trying to go about this as unspoilery as possible, there is a scene towards the end with Shane’s car and the editing in the scene is superb. There’s a state of mind that is presented and intermittently thrown into the edit when necessary, all while some other crazy stuff is going on. Some people say the best editing is when you don’t recognize the editing, but I think the best editing is when a montage of shots perfectly puts you in the shoes of the characters. The editing in this scene made me feel like I was in that exact scenario with them and I was awestruck at how impressive it was.

With an incredibly tight script and excellent directing, Crumb Catcher takes the viewer through a weird and intense journey. It may seem like the crumb catcher idea is a wacky idea Chris Skotchdopole, or Garay or Fessenden, had while writing the film, but there’s much more to it than that. It might be hard to look past the goofy invention and that’s fair. All I ask is that you take a step back and think about it. The literal inclusion of the invention is John’s ticket into their lives, and the metaphorical inclusion is Shane’s ticket into John and Rose’s life. Crumb Catcher is one hell of a ride, and I’m glad I took it. This is a special film and it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Bingo bongo up the Congo!

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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