Running time: 89 minutes
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist and Reviewer
Child actors seem to have a history of being screwed up. Multiple visits to rehab, ego meltdowns and dealing with what comes after success, leads to many going totally off the rails before they reach puberty. Britney Spears, Zac Elfron, Lindsay Lohen, Drew Barrymore and Justin Beiber all faltered at some stage when the pressure of carrying a TV show, movie or successful pop career became too much weight for such young shoulders.
None of them were affected as much as seasoned actor, Alan Miller (Daniel O’Meara), the narcissistic character in Eric Troop and Jim Lane’s indie horror, Deadly Famous. After a successful child acting career in which he made everyone a hell of a lot of money, Miller has fallen on hard times. He expects far too much from himself and the potential roles that he is now put forward for. It seems erectile dysfunction and depression advertisements are his best shot at work. We watch as he takes tantrums at rehearsals and shouts obscenities down the phone at his sleazy agent (Anthony Powers) for work more deserving of his talents.
In his spare time Alan likes to snort coke with his Hollywood buddy Eric Roberts (gleefully sending himself up in a creepy cameo) and more worryingly, hunt down young actresses and torture, murder and feast upon their remains. When a pretty blonde bombshell called Pamela (Jackie Moore) moves into his vacant flat below, he initially befriends her and offers her his acting words of wisdom. Secretly he wants to bed the attractive, young woman and inflate his mega ego further. When she wins herself a part in an up and coming soap opera and dates the hot male lead, her landlord becomes extremely envious of her good fortune. Alan’s envy soon turns to rage. His plan is to make sure there is no second season for the series.
Fans of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) and Maniac (2012) will have much to chew on, if you pardon the pun, in this grim and professionally handled study of how years of abuse from seedy producers and executives turn a child actor into a twisted monster and predator of young Hollywood hopefuls. As Alan states, “People go missing all the time”. Although for the most part there is a lack of gore on offer, Deadly Famous has a truly nasty tone and atmosphere running throughout the running time. Carefully placed camera angles imply what the killer is doing to his victims rather than show you his actions.
The supporting cast is good but British character actor, Daniel O’Meara is stunning and terrifying in the lead role. Your skin physically crawls as he charms, paws and eyes up his prey before he even starts to inflict any physical harm on them. In one particularly twisted scene he wraps a helpless young woman in cling film and starts to hack out her insides for lunch. In another he snorts around on all fours like a pig as his victim dangles from a noose above him. Many images will stay with you for days after watching this.
There are very few negatives that can be placed upon Troop and Lane’s feature including the fact that the relationship between Alan and Pamela could have been developed further. The dynamic between them seems to indicate a vulnerability to the egotistical actor. In a touching moment he opens up to Pamela and reveals the torment that he received on set as a boy.
Deadly Famous can sit proudly with some of the very finest serial killer films on the market. This is due to a fantastic central performance from O’Meara, twisted torture sequences and a tense and unsettling tone throughout.