After getting hit by a car, Dylan gains supernatural powers that he uses to hack government computers and expose the corruption within.
In a field somewhere, a boy (Dylan) and a girl (Leah) find a strange mushroom at the base of a tree. The mushroom turns into a box and the boy pulls out a stone. “It’s a magical day!” says Leah, and they both skip along elsewhere.
Years later, Dylan is now an adult who has become an acclaimed novelist with a Master’s in Computer Science. Recently he’s added “getting run over by a car” to his list of achievements. As he’s loaded into an ambulance, the mysterious stone we saw in the opening scene appears in Dylan’s hand.
In the hospital, the doctors say Dylan’s in bad shape, but the power of the stone heals him overnight and he returns home to his girlfriend Emily.
Dylan stops working on his next novel, infamously proclaiming “No more books!” and starts focusing on hacking into top secret government files for some reason.
At a barbecue, Dylan discovers that one of the doctors who helped him after his accident was his childhood crush after she drops a notebook with “It’s a magical day!” written inside.
The rest of the film involves various subplots:
1. Dylan visits a couple therapists: one of them keeps trying to prescribe Dylan medication, while the other keeps telling Dylan he has a special power. At the end of the film, it turns out that the latter therapist was either a hallucination or another individual with special powers.
2. Dylan’s best friend’s teenage daughter has a crush on Dylan and skinny-dips in his pool then tries to take a bath in his house. He tells her not to do this anymore then scolds Emily for allowing the daughter to visit their house in the first place.
3. Dylan’s best friend has relationship problems with his wife. She ends up shooting him while he works on his sports car, but passes it off as a suicide.
4. Emily is addicted to pills. She overdoses and dies, allowing Dylan to hook up with Leah.
5. Dylan has visions where he’s nude, cradling an equally-nude Leah in a room with walls covered in trashbags.
6. Dylan (I assume, as we only see the lower half of his body) explores his newfound ability to walk through walls/teleport.
7. Dylan spills coffee.
At the end of the film, Leah gets kidnapped by someone or other and Dylan rescues her from trailer prison with his walk through walls power. Then he goes on national (?) television to share his top secret findings he gathered from his hacking escapades. Upon hearing this, several businessmen and politicians commit suicide.
In the final scene, Dylan strolls through a park with Leah, providing a bookend with the opening.
This is Neil Breen’s third film, and one can see definite improvements in Breen’s craft: it’s less dependent on stock footage and has a lot of scenes indoors – his last two films had exactly one indoor scene each – and with more indoor scenes comes…more character interactions! The dialogue and acting is of course still weak, but they succeed in providing (unintentional) laughs.
Like Breen’s other films, there were many slow scenes with nothing going on; an attempt to add atmosphere, but probably to also pad the film’s length. It also gets really close to the surreal, with the weird trash bag visions and strange apparition that pops up every now and then (what was that about?), but doesn’t quite succeed in getting there.
And, really, all the scenes with Dylan’s best friend and his family could be excised. None of them added to the story and were just window dressing. It was also a bit off-putting how Dylan blatantly cheats on Emily with Leah even before Emily dies, and we’re not really given the impression that he’s doing anything wrong. Apparently it’s okay to cheat on your partner as long as it’s with someone you’ve known since childhood who you’re “destined” to be with.
But the biggest flaw? Dylan spends nearly the entire film hacking, discovers a monumental government secret, then addresses the news saying that he’s discovered this secret (and people commit suicide because of it), but he never tells us what it actually is!
There were some strange camera angles (a couple times, people’s heads were out of frame) and even stranger editing. I often wondered if these were intentional. There were also several instances where something dramatic happens in the story, and then we cut to Dylan back to work at his desk pecking at a computer keyboard like nothing’s happened. A severe lack of establishing shots left me feeling disoriented in regards to passage of time.
While Fateful Findings may be a slog to watch and isn’t quite as quotable as The Room, I think it makes for a fun party film to watch with friends and (more likely) enemies.
Bradford White says
Loved this review. I feel my relationship with Mr. Breen is stronger than ever. I hope he continues making films and you continue to review them.
Excellent review of a very curious vuhdio production. Mr Breen has a very unusual notions of narrative causality.