Director: Anthony Stabley
Writer: Anthony Stabley
Stars: Elisabeth Röhm, Bai Ling, Michael Massee, Robert LaSardo, Valentina de Angelis, Adam David
Writer/director Anthony Stabley has accomplished something rare: he has crafted a truly thoughtful film that looks at the seedy side of Hollywood and our voracious appetite for stories that end in tragedy. Perhaps it’s just dumb luck, but I’d like to think that Everlasting
has hit at the same time as Making a Murder
because more often than not, the victims of crimes become a footnote while the accused murderers become the main attraction.
Using a mix of traditional story telling and previous footage taken by our narrator, Matt, Everlasting tells the story of Jessie Martel. An aspiring model, she moves from Colorado to L.A. to live in a house that is a kind of a farming site for young, naive girls with stars in their eyes. The seedy side of Hollywood and it’s siren call to young people is an old standard because it’s a sad reality that happens every single day, but don’t be so quick to write Everlasting off as another drop in the bucket of cautionary Hollywood tales.
Matt, played by the ridiculously handsome Adam David, is an old soul in a young man’s body who really, truly loves his girlfriend Jessie. Although he doesn’t want her to move, he’s compelled to support her dream of finding success in L.A., so he helps her move out there and it’s this car trip to California where we get an inside look at their relationship. The mix of the chemistry between our two leads and the personal video camera’s being used to capture their time together creates an intimate feeling. Almost to the point where you feel as though you’re intruding on private moments, but all the better for investing you in the characters.
Our future starlet in question, Jessie, is brought to life by Valentina De Angelis and she really does a bang up job of playing a girl shrouded in darkness who is trying to overcome it, but as Matt tells us, “Darkness can take over your life, even when you think you have it under control.”
Alternating between the previously recorded footage and Matt’s current footage, the story of Jessie and her time in Hollywood unfolds concurrently with the mystery of who sent Matt a video of Jessie’s murder. As Matt hones his private detective skills, we learn about a serial killer who was released from prison years prior and we also see the kind of people Jessie is surrounded by in L.A. Unfortunately, they seem to be mainly of the unsavory kind. From Christiane (Bai Ling) who is more interested in throwing a great party than the safety of Jessie, Henrique (Pat Healy who has turned in another stellar performance as a truly creepy guy) and Rocky (Robert LaSardo) who knows an unsettling amount of information about the potential serial killer, no one has Jessie’s best interest at heart except Matt and he isn’t there to protect her.
Since Matt is the one driving our story, he’s the one who has decided that he will not reveal the video of Jessie’s murder until he has made sure that we learn about who she was and what her hopes and dreams were. We are forced to acknowledge that she was a living, breathing human being just like us and the fact that a mystery/thriller revolves around that and not the monster who killed her is what makes this film special. Don’t fret, though, we do eventually meet her killer. The way Stabley handled the filming of the killer prior to his reveal is exceptionally well done, adds an extra layer of mystery and in no way prepares you for the surprising third act.
Everlasting is a wonderful mix of a love story, a cautionary tale and murder mystery all wrapped into one that is especially timely. The unfortunate rise of people named Kardashian has bred a generation of kids who have been led to believe that fame is the only thing that matters and it’s within arm’s reach. A beautifully haunting film, Everlasting will stick with you and, hopefully, make you think.
Images courtesy of Supergrandefilms