Review: THE GREEDY TIFFANY, A Feat In Czech Genre Production
This year saw the release of two horror films of the same breed (found footage). While one vanished into oblivion soon after its release (DIY mode of production), the other one travelled beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Despite unalluring prospects, a new attempt to stick to the genre on home turf materializes in the debut of Ondřej Pavliš, working under the moniker Andy Fehu, and boasting a somewhat ambiguous title, although The Greedy Tiffany lands far from the niche of In Diana Jones.
The Greedy Tiffany falls right in the middle of the two mentioned cases, as restricted resources worked in favour of lo-fi horror, whilst a small crew's zeal invested into the project paid off handsomely. After all, it's an indie project (meaning low-budget, approximately 260 000 USD), not an amateur one, even though the up-and-coming director built himself a solid name on the domestic amateur and semi-pro scene.
The film opens not so different from Prušinovský´s social dramedy The Snake Brothers, currently the most critically acclaimed Czech film of this year. Building on a symptomatic note. Tiffany protagonist Pepa, a drifter sporting a neglected asocial look, also loots cabins for fast, effortless cash scored in a pawn shop. However, unlike Prušnovský´s protagonist Cobra, he does not buy drugs to slip under the euphoric haze of temporal feel-good ecstasy, as he spends the money to sustain his freewheeling existence as a careless bum. Pepa is by definition a slacker, and the only thing that separates him from homeless people he hangs around frequently is that he actually has a home of sorts.
The big break comes only after he finds an abandoned camera lying in a meadow. (Or, literal "found footage.") A handy narrative device, inserted as a story within a story, foregrounds events to come and sets the protagonist racing to uncover the mysterious wealth-hurling-hole captured on the tape. The spectre of effortlessly procured money looms in the film, providing solid ground for social critique, a strategy applied by the director in his earlier works. Pepa is soon challenged as to what lengths is he willing to go in order to maintain his well-being from the dubious and rather occult source, as well as his already vanishing spine.
The Greedy Tiffany does not follow in the footsteps of Ghoul. Fehu shies away from jump-scares and gore, and takes the less exploitative route. He is not afraid to mingle a healthy dose of humour, enjoyably channelled by the perfectly-cast lead actor Leoš Noha, and vestiges of psychological horror to achieve a pleasant equilibrium, assuring that one aspect does not take over another. The horror and comedy keep the film from turning into pretentious and overly moralising, while the allegorical plane borrows a bit of its depth in the form of social critique, resulting in entertaining fare, repackaging the old 'money spoils the character' axiom into greed´s transforming and destructive power.
The director himself refers to the film as an "adventurous horror comedy," since the initial impetus came from treasure hunting. That became the film's central theme for the unhealthy pursuit of prosperity, while the props and a scheme as framing came from the basic horror-movie inventory. What adds a special crispy layer to The Greedy Tiffany is not the eponymous, obscure entity luring men into her/it venomous toils like a siren, nor the psychoanalytical scrutiny the scene(s) begs for -- a hole also belongs in the equation -- but the setting.
Fehu navigates the environment of the lowest social ground sensitively yet effectively, giving a more local spin on the term slacker. He probes the community where the meaning of life resides at the bottom of a bottle, while the entire existence shrinks into a voluntary limbo on the fringes of society, devoid of any purposeful aspirations. Much like the other aspects, the asocial lifestyle is also grasped according to an initial style that is not mocking nor exploitative, albeit keeping the humour as an authentic postcard, past the finishing line of a downward spiral.
The Greedy Tiffany, amusing minimalistic social horror enriched by thick flavour from local cuisine, commands the potential to compete with indie genre production on the international level. As a token of a young filmmaker's capabilities, it might open some doors, while it also signals a positive development in genre and indie production in the domestic background.
The Greedy Tiffany was world-premiered at the Midnight Screenings section of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and is now in general theatrical release in Czech Republic.