Lightning Bug

Lightning Bug (2004)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Bret Harrison, Laura Prepon, Kevin Gage, Ashley Laurence, Josh Todd, Hal Sparks
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Music Video, Gallery

Recently, Anchor Bay Entertainment has brought forth a few new independent movies that are truly living up to the studio's reputation of being one of the premiere providers of the genre. Now the unleash "Lightning Bug" upon viewers, the second movie by Robert Hall, who is mostly known for his extensive make-up artist work on shows such as "Buffy," "The X-Files" and a string of feature films.

Despite its ominous-looking packaging, "Lightning Bug" is not a horror film but a heartfelt drama and thriller. Partly autobiographic, the film tells the story of Green Graves (Bret Harrison) a young man in the deepest trenches of Alabama. Coming from an abusive trailer-trash family, Green desperately tries to escape his sad life by escaping into the world of horror movies. He has a sculpting talent and devises all sorts of special make-up effects and prosthetics, hoping that one day he may be able to go to Hollywood and work on actually films. It's a long way until there however, and he has to watch his mother being abused by her eternally-drunk husband, living through moral standards and goals that just make you shudder.
One day he meets Angevin Duvet (Laura Prepon) and finds a compatible mind in her, hoping for a brighter future, but he has to face the demons of his life over and over again when the real life catches up with him – and so does a fanatical church group, condemning his fascination with horror and the work he hoes.

The DVD presents "Lightning Bug" in an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is absolutely clean and clear, belying the movie's limited budget origins. Color reproduction is solid and the black levels create an image that holds good visual depth and shadows that never break up. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is also without flaws.

The release also boasts a full-fledged 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix that is active and dynamic, making good use of the format's split surround channels. The dynamic range is very good and the bass extension creates a good low end of the spectrum. Dialogue is well integrated and always understandable, but sadly no subtitles have been provided on the release.

Two separate commentary tracks are part of the DVD. The first one features writer/director Robert Hall discuss in depth how he conceived the film, how he went about writing, producing and shooting it and discusses also the biographic elements of it. It is an engrossing commentary that is very personal at times and full of valuable information, especially for fledgling filmmakers.
The second track offers up comments by Robert Hall, producer Lisa Watch and actresses Ashley Laurence and Laura Prepon. Again this is an intimate commentary that reveals the passion they all had for making this movie.

As an additional extra the DVD also contains a featurette entitled "Luciferin: The Making Of Lightning Bug" taking you behind the scenes of the production with additional footage and information. The DVD is rounded out by deleted scenes – complete with commentary by Robert Hall – outtakes, a music video and still gallery, as well as the movie's trailer.

"Lightning Bug" is a very cool and heartfelt movie. It is the fact that it is so sensible and personal that makes this film tick. The action may be a bit slow at times as the story builds towards the main premise, but never does it feels sluggish because the visual narrative is always interesting. Great Indie flick that you should check out some time!