Justin Foia, Timothy Foia
In the end... they always come home. Reap what you sow and get comfortable in the bed you made. An underlying premise - not only for the baddies of "DOE" from Justin and Timothy Foia, but just good words to live by... period. For the Foia's however, as well as the cast and crew, those words to live by are bestowed in the most positive way. I wasn't quite sure what to expect jumping into this flick, but I got so much more than I could have hoped for. There's a definite flare, or feeling this film was made during the mid 1990's or the early 2000's period. Not so much the look or sound, rather in the pacing and style. Definitely not a bad thing in my eyes, as I'm a huge fan of movies from that period. There's just something about them that is different from even the best of film now days. "DOE" as a story - was not only suited to this style/feeling - but nailed it completely.
The story basics are pretty simple. Eight years earlier, John wakes up with no memory of who he is. Even stranger is his ability to pick up languages supernaturally quickly. As the story progresses to present day, John is being interviewed on a radio show regarding his unique ability. Thirty seven languages, fluently, is an amazing mental feat. Unbeknownst to the host, or world, John's collected languages vastly exceeds a mere thirty seven. Gift aside, he's done good for himself over the last eight years. A beautiful loving wife, and the perfect daughter. Who could ask for more? Right?
As John teaches his class one day, a man walks in and straight away, you can tell something is off about him. The man claims that like John, he woke up one day with no memory of who he was - and a gift for math. A crazy gift that allows him, as he puts it, to do calculations that would crash a super computer. All is not well with this guy though, and shortly after, this man commits suicide - but not before warning John that the same fate awaits him. Whatever was done to them, causes severe mental imbalances until the inevitable happens. A complete breakdown and finally... suicide. Even worse? John is getting the symptoms.
What follows is a detective story of sorts with a science fiction twist. As John and his brother in law Carl, spiral down the rabbit hole... pun intended... what follows is a smart thriller that is made even scarier by one simple fact. The science fiction involved here? It's not all that far fetched. For all any of us know, the Sci-fi elements in this film could be happening right now in real life. Let me just leave it at that and move on.
Before I continue, let me just write that I hate watermarks. Having a massive watermark throughout an entire film is not only a major distraction, but a very outdated practice. If someone is going to pirate a film, they're not really going to care about a watermark. But more importantly? That mark only distracts from the film and makes it really hard to get into. There's nothing worse than getting lost in a world, and then being ripped out again because of a watermark. Luckily, "DOE" was a good enough film to make me un-see it - thankfully.
All that aside, this really was a great movie. Some may argue my rating is a little generous, and perhaps for those who are used to loads of action, super fast edits and crazy effects, it really is. For me however, this film was everything I wanted to see. Maybe that feeling of a different era triggered some nostalgia? It's possible - but who cares. The point is to entertain - and I was just that. I enjoyed the slightly slower pace and smart script - and honestly? The lack of crazy violence made the tense scenes much more potent.
I also have to say that the casting, and acting was stellar. I would expect nothing less from a troupe of professionals but more often than not, with indie flicks, it feels like the cast is trying too hard. Trying to show how professional they are. In those cases something is lost, but not here. Without name dropping, let me just write that "DOE" is handled excellently by both the leads, and the supporting actors. Even the extras all feel right - is that not something?
My only complaint was during the final act. John discovers who is responsible for his condition by breaking into a warehouse. What I couldn't get my head around? A company this, for lack of a better word, tidy... would never leave that crap laying around eight years later. That warehouse would have been cleaned out - no question. I wish a more subtle set of clues had been found. A scrap of paper in an empty warehouse? Anything smaller. With that said, this was a teeny thing and many probably wouldn't even think about it. Or, one could always say arrogance kept the clues in place. You be the judge.
When it's all said and done, "DOE" will probably resonate better with an older audience. Probably thirties and up. Especially those like me, who loved movies like "The Client" from yester-year. "DOE" is a character based drama/thriller that although contains some science fiction elements, they only compliment the story - not overpower it. This is another one of those rare indie movies, that although I've obviously seen, would not hesitate to buy myself a hard copy. Especially if there were some special features included. Yup. I'm a special features fanatic. Even if you don't completely agree with my rating, there would still be no denying what a great film this is. Indie, studio, low budget... when it all comes down to it... a good film is a good film. Period.