To the outside world, Brewster is an idyllic town, the essence of small-town America. Shiny wide streets are lined with neat little houses. Small, green parks teem with playing children. Cars are clean, crime is low and the local are polite. In short, a middle-class utopia that makes your mouth water. And the prospect of a terribly tedious film if it weren’t for the arrival of Whiley Pritcher (Ron Marquette). This mysterious stranger with the piercing gaze takes up residence in the little hotel of ex-mayor Bob Hodges. Soon he puts the stick in the hornet’s nest by starting up a programme on local cable television. In “Our Town,” presenter Pritcher asks only one question: “What’s wrong with Brewster?” In the beginning, the reactions are limited to bins taken out too early and watering the lawn on Sundays, but in time, the cesspool slowly starts to boil over. The true nature of paradise emerges when everyone starts flinging each other’s dirty laundry in the face.

Behind a decent façade there is often an underground of decay, decadence, and corruption, as the works of David Lynch teach us. And 27-year-old debutant director Bryan Singer has taken this to heart. Shot in super-fast time (18 days) and super-cheaply made ($250,000), this sharp thriller not only drew enthusiastic comments from the critics, but also won the Grand Jury Prize at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. Psychopath Pritcher, brilliantly played by television actor Ron Marquette (Beauty and the Beast, 2000 Malibu Road, The Fortunate Pilgrim) is a vicious metaphor for people’s ignorance and the instant-emotion gratification techniques of modern media. Bryan Singer is an evil man with a great future.

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