FILM INFO: A young man working to save enough money for college gets caught up in the dangerous prescription drug scene when he becomes involved with a wealthy girl with too much time and money on her hands.
WRITTEN BY: Justin Beckenheimer DIRECTED BY: Justin Beckenheimer GENRE: Drama TIME: 105 minutes
Being a genuine lover of indie and low budget movies can get tiring at times. It is true that here and there, you're blown away by what you're watching; other times however, a person is left underwhelmed and asking why. Just... Why? Thankfully, "Heaven Burns" easily falls into the "former" category. Justin Beckenheimer has penned and directed an awesome feature film, echoing my general thoughts that you don't need a Hollywood budget to create something great. This film oozes entertainment value. It's one of those movies you could happen upon by chance, and end up sticking around simply because you don't want to change the channel. Although not a new story by any stretch, "Heaven Burns" features enough great qualities to make you forget you've seen this story before. It's all here though, the ideal life trampled on by surrounding pressures, the fall from grace and yes, even the return to goodness. This film deals with the life of young adults, peer pressure and the need to fit in, and drugs. Lots of drugs. Realistically however, any plot device could have been used as long as it was done as well as it was here. Indie haters take note... this one may change your mind on the genre. The technical discussions, when it comes to indie films, are generally considered as our way of pounding films into the ground. Even when we enjoy them! What fun would a write-up be, for the writer... if they can't do a little film bashing? The reality is that we always hope our "thoughts" and "opinions" can simply be used as a tool for the next time. It's never fun, especially if we/I like the movie in question. Without us being honest however... you get the point. The cast and crew of "Heaven Burns" for the most part, can breathe a sigh of relief. In my humble opinion, pre-production, production and post were all seemingly handled excellently. It clearly shows when watching the film. There were some scenes I felt the color was off, or maybe the camera jittered a little much, but they were few and far between. All in all, the film played pretty darn well. Very nicely paced by the editor. Also included was a good soundtrack that served to compliment the scenes, and not overpower them; as well as easily understandable dialog. It all worked out great production-wise but for me, the best part was a simple choice. The acting. From the leading roles straight through to the supporting, the acting of this movie surpassed a good lot of "A list" films I've seen recently. Experience shows and in this case, it shows well. Sure, it helped that the script was a great one, but I think even if it wasn't, the cast would still have pulled off an entertaining film. So there you have it. I really, truly enjoyed this movie and I feel most other viewers would be on my side of the court. "Heaven Burns" is another proof story that "independent" doesn't always mean cheesy or bad. Here lies another example of a good story done well. I may only be an "average joe" watching another indie film, but for me this one worked. In the end, that's all that really matters. -JT