Sextuple threat (director, writer, actor, editor, co-producer, composer–and that doesn’t include poster designer, soundtrack musician and co-chef for his cast and crew) Jack Fessenden shot his very assured debut feature, the clever and bloody thriller, “Stray Bullets,” in July 2015, when he was 15.
Long-time friends, upstate New York high school students Ash (Asa Spurlock, who also plays cello on the film’s score, and could be Ezra Miller’s younger brother), a talented golfer, and Connor (Fessenden), a mechanical whiz, meet up early at Richie’s Repair. They’re picking up a package containing a paint gun and ammo that Connor had bought and surreptitiously had delivered to his part-time workplace.
Their plan for the day is to help Ash’s father, JT (Robert Burke Warren), with a long-neglected job, cleaning out his old (but appealing) trailer in the woods. But it’s sunny and summer and the boys find time to talk to girls and blast paint at trees.
The same morning in New York City, three over-the-hill petty criminals’ current caper goes seriously awry and they head for the hills (the Catskills) in a green/gold and white 1974 Dodge Dart. Charlie (horror maestro Larry Fessenden, who also served as the film’s cinematographer and co-producer), is seriously wounded, bleeding profusely on his perfect sleazy suit (wardrobe/production designer and co-producer, Beck Underwood, Jack’s mother) and onto the backseat’s perfect vintage upholstery. The trio’s enraged victim, Kaufman, dispatches Nick (Kevin Corrigan), a flinty hitman, to recover his oversized gold Rolex and briefcase.
Safely out of New York but short of their destination, the gang breaks down on a rural road, across from Marbletown Park and its pavilion. Hiding the car, Cody (James Le Gros, behind black sunglasses and sporting extravagant facial hair), Dutch (John Speredakos) and Charlie also fade from sight.
A feeling of uneasiness hits Ash as he enters JT’s trailer and sees a gun on a chair, but before he and Connor can flee, Dutch emerges from the rear, Cody from outside, and waving weapons, force the frightened teens onto the small sofa.
To reveal more of the story would destroy the suspense and gory entertainment (fun until it isn’t). Suffice it to say that bullets and bodies fly, and Connor and Ash’s carefree summer/lives are over.
“Stray Bullets” will open today at Village East Cinema and a Q&A with Jack Fessenden and friends will follow the 9:00 pm screening. There will also be a Q&A on Saturday, February 11 after the 7:00 pm show. From Friday, February 10, “Stray Bullets” can be watched on Amazon and iTunes (where the soundtrack will also be available).