There are some interesting ideas trapped somewhere in the tonal mess of Scammerhead, the newest film from actor/writer/director Dan Sukovic. Is it a comedy? Occasionally. Is it a thriller? Not really. Is it a crime film? Only for the ten minutes or so that 79-year-old Alex Rocco steals the film from everyone on screen. Scammerhead aspires to be a cutting edge satire about a business world of get-rich-quick schemes where perception is more important than reality, and social media propaganda trumps the quality of the actual product. Put an emphasis on the word “aspires” because the broad acting and silly plotlines undermine any bite that such a satire might have.
Dan Zukovic plays Silas Breece, a hipster who perpetually spews business jargon into a headset as he wheels and deals (scams) his way through one bogus commercial venture after another. Breece also provides a faux hard-boiled voiceover that runs through nearly every minute of the film and tries to explain the fragments that have been cut together on screen. The never-ending exposition begins at tedious and quickly becomes outright annoying.
During the course of the film, Silas graduates from small deals with so-called “party boys” who will part with big chunks of cash just for the thrill of investing to large land deals and marketing schemes with organized crime ties. Unfortunately, it sounds much more exciting than it actually is. Scammerhead is clearly not striving for gritty realism, but when a multi-million dollar deal falls through because Silas’ clients buy commercial properties before they bother to sort out the zoning issues, you have to wonder where such morons came up with their millions to begin with. When a second business deal fails over almost the exact same issue, you’ll wonder if Dan Zukovic had to write the script over a single weekend and couldn’t come up with a different plot twist.
Scammerhead boasts the appearance of countless locations both foreign and domestic that must be a combination of convincing set dressing and green screen backgrounds. That said, the film has moments that look glaringly low budget. There are ways to shoot a film digitally, and there are ways to make a film look like you shot it on your parents’ camcorder from the ’80s. The IMDB listing for Scammerhead doesn’t name a cinematographer or director of photography for the film. If that’s not simply an omission, it may explain why sections of the film look like the cinematic equivalent of a high school play. In the end, if the film itself had been the least bit compelling, such nitpicks would never occur to me.
During three days of the Chattanooga Film Festival, I saw 13 films, and this was my only outright disappointment. All of the other twelve succeeded to varying degrees. Scammerhead only succeeded in making me miss dinner on Friday night.
For more 2015 Chattanooga Film Festival Coverage, click here.
The Movie Isle
Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.