Producer: Gia McKenna   Director: Brian DiLorenzo   Screenplay: Brian DiLorenzo   Cast: Justin Andrew Davis, Nicholas Tucci, Sadie Scott, Alex Beechko, Connor Dylan, Morgan Nichols, Matthew Kelly, Mary Tighe, Joanna Janetakis, Max MacKenzie, Joel Widman, Kevin Gonzalez, Timothy French, Elizabeth Scopel, Chris Ragni, Marc Marron, Jenny Ward and Joseph DiLorenzo   Distributor: Indie Rights Movies 

Grade: C

An intriguing premise gets decent but unexceptional execution in Brian DiLorenzo’s debut feature.  Although the result isn’t as clever and surprising as it’s obviously intended to be,  the ultra low-budget piece still represents a promising calling card for the writer-director, as well as being notable for one of the final performances by Nicholas Tucci, a young actor who died a few months ago.

The movie opens with one of its better jokes—the sight of live-at-home college student and aspiring filmmaker Alex (Justin Andrew Davis) penning the first line of a script, which (“The night was cold and dark”) turns out to bear a frightening resemblance to the notoriously bad opening (“It was a dark and stormy night”) of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “Paul Clifford.”  Alex, it seems, is an extreme fan of cult auteur JP Smith (Tucci): the kid even wears a promo T-shirt advertising Smith’s film “Myth,” which he idolizes.  He obviously hopes to follow in the older director’s footsteps. 

One night he goes to a nearby diner and, on his way home, is accosted by some drunken guys, who force him to take a chug from their bottle.  He breaks away and is rescued by a good Samaritan, who offers him a place to crash for the night, as he’s obviously in no shape to go home.  It’s only the next morning that he realizes that the man is his idol Smith.

What serendipity!  Smith has been arguing with his producer Nora (Alex Beechko) about writing the script for his next movie—she’s already raised the budget ($34,000, she says) and has investors to answer to; but he’s been putting her off.  Now, having met Alex, he has an idea for a cinéma vérité piece in which he’ll follow the kid as, among other things, he’ll romance Ruby (Sadie Scott), a girl he sees while hanging out with Smith at the mall.  The game is on.

Unfortunately, when the two go out for a walk in the woods, they encounter a couple of cops who catch them smoking weed and assign them community service in lieu of a summons; and while they’re picking up trash, they meet Josh (Connor Dylan), a long-haired dreamboat Ruby’s instantly attracted to.  Alex becomes something of a third wheel in the mix, following the other two around—as when they visit an old mill and encounter a crazed man (Morgan Nichols) who rants about murders and frightens them off.

It’s the encounter with that strange fellow—and close watching of “Myth” (the clips of which resemble a pretentious experimental flick)—that clue Alex into the fact that something is going on.  But still he doesn’t put everything together until later on, suggesting he’s not especially perceptive (though to be fair, the coda—implausible as it is, from what we’re seen of the shoot—suggests that Smith is a mite naïve, too). 

Plot-wise, “Myth” plays pretty fair with the audience, and the concept behind it is interesting, if hardly realistic in technical terms.  Davis embodies Alex’s awkwardness well, and Scott is convincing, while Dylan makes a plausible preening stud.  DiLorenzo elicits adequate performances from the rest of the cast, including Tucci, who’s mostly stuck in solemn mode but gets to show a few flashes of dark charisma. And for the most part his technical team, headed by cinematographer Daniel Brady, make what must have been a tiny budget count. )DiLorenzo served as his own editor).  Most of the score consists of songs written by Mark Ritsema and sung by Suzie.

Unlike the imaginary film that provides its title, “Myth” –which was actually made a few years ago and has been on the festival circuit since—is unlikely to be considered an undiscovered masterpiece by anybody (no Alex stands in the wings).  But while its treatment of the theme of illusion versus reality is hardly profound,  it allows DiLorenzo to indulge in some engaging if silly narrative sleight-of-hand.