Who is Neil Breen? Why, hes the best thats ever been.
To be more accurate, Neil Francis Breen (born November 23, 1958) works as a real-estate agent and architect, but is more well-known for his forays into independent filmmaking since the mid-2000s. As a director / writer / producer / actor / art director / head financier / editor / composer / caterer, he's directed Double Down (2005), I Am Here....Now (2009),note Fateful Findings (2013), Pass Thru (2016) and Twisted Pair (2018), a series of films dealing with supernatural events, government conspiracies, untrustworthy men in high places, marital strife, loneliness, and a moral center saving the others from their corruptness. And they all stink on ice.
In the past decade, Breen has come into internet infamy, thanks in part to review sites such as RedLetterMedia, YourMovieSucks.org, and The Cinema Snob taking on his efforts. The incompetence of his films, from acting to production value, takes on new levels of So Bad, It's Good on film that have yet to be seen. Not only has this propelled him to cult stardom, he's used this newfound popularity to his advantage, having his fans kickstart his films rather than having to finance them himself.
Despite this, Breen is a stellar example of what a true independent filmmaker can be. The fact that this is a man who doesn't need to do this, but chooses to do so simply because he's so passionate about what he does is somewhat inspiring, to say the least. Not only that, but because his films have increasingly relied on crowdfunding, they're coming out more and more often, a far cry from the days when they were released every three to five years on the salaries from his day jobs. While he may not be the most talented artist, Breen's enthusiasm, passion and drive to create the kinds of films he wants without studio interference make him a true example of an independent artist.
If you want to keep up with the mans myth and legend, you can find him on Twitter and YouTube. If you want a primer on the works of Breen, check out YMS's review of Fateful Findings, RLM's Best of the Worst episode featuring Double Down, their episode featuring Pass-Thrunote , or the Snob's take on Double Down, I Am Here.... Now and Fateful Findings.
The works of Neil Breen include examples of:
- Anachronism Stew: Laptops and flip phones aside, Neil makes no attempt to properly depict an accurate Period Piece. The prologue to Fateful Findings is supposed to be set several decades prior to present day, yet Leah's parents somehow possess a Lexus RX 330 that debuted in 2003, and a 2010 Ford Fusion can be seen in the background when the camera shifts to young Dylan standing in the middle of the road.
- Artistic License Astronomy: In I Am Here....Now, The Being claims to have had much better success at sowing life on the other planets in the solar system, complete with highly-improbable ecosystems whose population have apparently advanced enough to grasp the importance of nature and respect it. This is neverminding the fact that Venus and Mercury are too close to the Sun and have atmospheres too toxic to support life, and the other planets barring Earth and Mars are all gas giants, with even worse atmospheric compositions than the former two.
- Artistic License Biology: Should you decide to consume immense quantities of canned tuna like Aaron Brand does in Double Down, you would find yourself afflicted with a severe case of mercury poisoning in very short order. Must have been his "bio-electro-medical implants" at work.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: Any trained firearm enthusiast would cringe into their own ribcage at the ridiculously Reckless Gun Usage in Neil's films. Most of the time, his characters would fire wildly at nothing in particular, holster "hot" firearms in their pants or pockets, aim at other people around them with their fingers on the trigger, or even pointing the guns at themselves just to look "cool" or "crazy". Semi-justified in-universe at least, since many of these characters are often mentally-unhinged criminals or crime lords who treat others like garbage anyway, though Neil himself runs afoul of this every now and then.
- Artistic License Medicine:
- Every character with substance abuse in Neil's films are instantly affected by whatever they take, however they take it, whether it is heroin or normal medication. They even OD immediately after taking said drugs if Neil intends for them to die, despite the process being very drawn-out and gruesome in reality, though in this case it's probably for the better that we don't get to see it.
- You don't get to just stop taking your medication at the drop of a hat like Dylan/Neil does in Fateful Findings, especially if those were prescribed to improve your condition after recovering from a near death experience, like car crash for example. Even if his recovery is nothing short of miraculous, he still seemed to suffer from residual pains, which is what his meds are likely for, which goes away immediately after he stops taking them.
- Awesome McCool Name: You can't get cooler names than "Aaron Brand", "Thgil", or "Cade/Cale Altair".
- Black and White Morality: His films make it very clear who are supposed to be the bad guys and who are supposed to be the good guys. Don't expect anyone to have a moral dilemma.
- Broken Record: Characters in his movies have this strange tendency to repeat whatever they've just said, occasionally several times in a row, but mostly just Neil. He is particularly guilty of this, which is made worse (or better, depending on how you slice it) by how he's compelled to add a Beat in between each repetition.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The villains of his movies will admit to being corrupt and love every moment of it. Don't expect any motive beyond
- Chest of Medals: Near the end of Double Down, Aaron Brand puts on a denim coat with an assortment of military medals. Yes, that includes the Purple Heart.
- Cold Ham: Neil's protagonists always manage to be both stiff as a board and deliciously hammy at the same time. All that Dull Surprise helps out a lot, no doubt.
- This comes up several times throughout the course of every film, but Fateful Findings takes the cake with the scene where Dylan finds Jim dead in his garage, having supposedly shot himself. Dylan's dialogue was apparently supposed to be heart-wrenching and emotional, due to Jim being his best friend and all, but Neil's stiff and monotonous delivery coupled with emphasis on the wrong words make it sound more annoyed and upset than anything else.
- In the same film, Dylan's reaction when he discovers the female doctor to have been Leah all this time sounds more like an angry parent chastising their kid than someone reuniting with his childhood sweetheart.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: All his films feature untrustworthy, wealthy business leaders acting for their personal greed and self-interests, counter to the morality and values that are championed by Neil Breen.
- Creator Provincialism: Las Vegas, Nevada and the deserts surrounding it appear as settings.
- Creator Thumbprint:
- A protagonist who is morally superior to the other character, who is granted supernatural abilities that approach god-like or who is a straight up god, always played by Neil Breen.
- Supernatural events affecting the normal state of the world.
- The landscapes of Nevada. Expect desert skulls to be featured.
- Promoting specific forms of technological innovation as useful for the advancement of human life, often opposed by or corrupted by government and corporate business.
- Characters flailing around like they never moved before in their lives.
- Dead wife and/or wife who has no bra. No bras at all for any female characters, to be precise.
- Characters filmed from the neck up with the sky as a background so that their scenes may be inserted anywhere in the story regardless of that location of the scene.
- Characters unable to refer to anything using proper nouns or specific names, i.e. The Morally Bankrupt Banker who is simply president of "the bank"; world leaders eliminated by Breen at the end of Pass-Thru are "the President" and "the Prime Minister"; elected politicians in "the legislature" have no party affiliation.
- Crusading Widower: In Double Down and Fateful Findings, but his character in the latter gets along quite fine soon enough.
- Death of the Author: Neil Breen encourages this for anyone trying to figure out what the hell anything means in his movies.
- Dull Surprise: The greatest tool in Breen's arsenal as an actor.
- Fanservice: His earlier films often include scenes of partially-nude young women just because.
- Fan Disservice: And also nude scenes of himself. The pool scene in Double Down even shows flashes of his genitals.
- Giftedly Bad: He's Alejandro Jodorowsky with the talent of Ed Wood.
- Hidden Depths: Crossing over with He Also Did, his careers as an architect and real-estate agent count as this.
- Hollywood Hacking: Often a central hero and always played by Neil Breen. Perhaps the best example of this is when he is able to somehow hack into a normal car, with just his cellphone.
- I Am the Noun: Twisted Pair gives us this rare gem:Cade: "I don't need to carry a weapon! I AM the weapon!"
- Info Dump: Expect a metric ton of these in all of Neil's films. Nobody seems to grasp what "show, don't tell" means, and will spout torrents of exposition at the drop of a hat because Neil can't ever be subtle with his writing.Dylan: "I'm going to continue hacking into these government systems...TAP TAP TAP...to see what I can find out...TYPE TYPE TYPE... about all this naaaaaational and international corruption I KNOW is going on.. TAP TAP TAP..."
- Jerkass: Expect at least one character in each of his movies to be a dick to someone just to be petty or for no reason at all.
- In fact, Neil's protagonists often cause mass deaths or unnecessary suffering to the "evil" characters on levels way above their own villainy. Disproportionate Retribution alone won't cut it.
- Kavorka Man: Let's face it, Neil is not a very good looking man, even for his age. Yet, very beautiful (and young) women will just drop into his lap seemingly at the drop of a hat. Many of his love interests will appear to be several decades younger than Neil himself, despite ostensibly being of the same age in-universe.
- The Klutz: The characters in his films are constantly falling, flailing, dropping stuff, bumping into each other, and simply floundering through their daily lives. This is probably a result of limited rehearsal time and filming few takes.
- Leave the Camera Running: That is, if he's not using stock footage in his films.
- Magic Realism: The fantastical elements in his films arent treated as a big deal by the otherwise normal characters. Either that, or an effect of the crappy acting.
- MayDecember Romance: Not strictly mentioned, but rather implied. The love interests in his films are always portrayed by very young women, while he himself is approaching his early 60s, and usually goes without even the least bit of makeup to make him seem younger than he really is. The implication is that Neil's protagonists and the love interests are of roughly equal age in-universe, as is the case with Fateful Findings, though it's very hard not to think otherwise.
- Messianic Archetype: All of his protagonists are, increasingly with each new movie, presented, with varying levels of bluntness, as Jesus (minus the act of self-sacrifice). Pass Thru is as subtle about as a sledgehammer to the face.
- Mind Screw: All his movies.
- Motifs: Broken laptops, strangely.
- No Endor Holocaust: In Pass Thru, 300 million people have been "eliminated" by Neil Breen's character, many of them high-ranking government and corporate officials ("The President" is the first one to vanish). The consequences of this are completely ignored. In fact, his character gives a speech telling people to rise up against corrupt governments and corporations despite the fact that he already had them all killed or made to "vanish."
- No Indoor Voice: Many of his characters have problems with volume control. These are usually criminals and/or antagonists, who supposedly shout at the top of their lungs all the time to assert their domination. In instances where Neil's protagonists interact with these people, it's usually Ham-to-Ham Combat.
- Perpetual Frowner: Neil and his protagonists are very seldom seen smiling, and are comically deadpan, if not highly upset most of the time. During the rare moments where they do smile, it's always in a most stiff, forced and insincere manner.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: It doesn't matter if the characters he plays commit acts like genocide, Neil Breen has his movies make it clear that they're on the moral high ground and is not afraid to show it.
- In Double Down, Aaron Brand/Neil finds it appropriate to contaminate lake Mead with deadly anthrax just to test it out on some random fish. Granted, he does perform other morally-dubious acts throughout the film, but the poisoning goes one step above due to lake Mead being one of the major fresh water reservoirs for three statesnote and even a part of Mexico, that provides for some 20 million people and large areas of farmland. Clearly collateral damage is no big deal for him.
- One especially disturbing scene in Twisted Pair has him creepily stalking an innocent woman to her home, break in in the middle of the night, and proceeds to assault and then Mind Rape her into falling in love with him. Need I remind you that his character is supposed to be the good guy?
- Self-Insert Fic
- Show Within a Show: For whatever reason, parts of Pass Thru are played on a home theater screen near the end of Twisted Pair.
- Special Effects Failure: From basic dissolves to copious amounts of the least convincing blood in all of cinema, it's all here.
- Spiritual Successor: You could consider Breen to be a present-day Ed Wood. Both made films that most would say are "terrible", but there are some who'd find their films endearing and would glowingly love their optimism for making movies simply because they loved making them. The only sliding difference is Breen also has his career as an architect and real-estate agent as a secondary balance career, while Ed Wood unfortunately didn't.
- Stock Footage: His films are often padded with stock footage of Las Vegas buildings and nightlife, the Nevada desert, swimming dolphins, the cosmos, and various CGI effects.
- Time Travel: His character in Pass Thru is apparently an AI from the future that somehow traveled back to present time to take over some random junkie's body, supposedly to cleanse the world of Corrupt Corporate Executives, politicians, evil governments, crime lords, and more. By the end of the movie, some 300 million people have been "vanished" by the protagonist, the ramifications of which are never touched upon. Somehow this radical alteration of the past does not lead to an Alternate Timeline.
- Touched by Vorlons: His protagonists are usually this, if they aren't already inexplicably divine or supernaturally-powerful, or are Vorlons themselves, as in the case of I Am Here....Now.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Because Breen apparently only had one stock image to hand for the greenscreened background of his character's big speech in the finale of Fateful Findings, it ends up making it look as though a mass suicide of corrupt politicians is taking place literally only a few feet away from his character, with neither he nor the assembled press considering it worthy of much attention.
- You Keep Using That Word: It's quite apparent by now that Neil doesn't really understand the meaning of the big words he likes to incorporate into his scripts. Perhaps the greatest misuse of a buzzword in his films is "humanoid" in Twisted Pair, which the unseen extra-terrestrials are mentioned to turn the protagonist and his brother into. Problem is, as a human, you can't be anymore humanoid than you already are. Furthermore, it's an adjective used to physically describe a being, while Neil supposedly uses it to refer to his powers.
Thgil: Quatum Fisics.
- And then there's that part in Pass Thru where Thgil (poorly) explains the mechanics of time traveling, using an array of mostly tangentially-related notions and concepts that Neil likely heard from the Discovery channel or something. And he also mispronounces some of them.