...And Then I Helped (2010) Review
Although Michael Todd Schneider is probably best known in the horror underground for his role as Maggot in the envelope-pushing Mordum picture in the August Underground series, his movie ...And Then I Helped is more compelling in all departments.
Surely, people who want a gorefest or an easy experience or a conventional one might be frustrated by the deliberate pace of this moody picture, and its obscured narrative, which is rather dreamlike. This isn't for everyone, though I think the artistic merit might actually appeal to people outside the hardcore gore crowd. Though yes, there is some quality splatter here.
Blurry and at times opaque, ...And Then I Helped is a visual poem---often free form with pinwheeling camera moves, odd cutaways and very over-saturated colors. It is engaging when no violence is upon the screen, though not from a character or plot standpoint as much as from the atmospherics and lush visuals and interesting angles. I'd prefer for it to have fewer edits in some of the scenes, though Schneider (also the editor) does find good rhythms most of the time. The textures, tone and trajectory had me involved for it's duration.
Reference points are things like Inland Empire, Mutilation Man, Lost Highway, Julien Donkey Boy, Easy Rider, and Natural Born Killers, as much as they are the more typical (and of course excellent) horror pictures like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Don't Torture a Duckling. So yeah, I'm pointing to a pretty varied palette to describe what Schneider is doing, because it is unique.
Patient viewers will be rewarded: ...And I Helped is in no rush, which is part of its appeal, and it gets better as it progresses, heightening tension and atmosphere and overall interest.
Schneider has a distinct voice and it's clear he's bringing varied influences and a lot of talent to a genre overpopulated with people who are content to simply copy the masters. I purchased a limited edition DVD directly from his site and advise others to do the same and support this talented fellow.