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DIRECTED BY: B. Luciano Barsuglia
FEATURING: Jed Rowen, James Di Giacomo, Rachel Riley
PLOT: A meter reader is zapped by 12,000 volts by a faulty transformer and finds himself experiencing different realities.
COMMENTS: “This movie was inspired by the things that really happen that cannot be explained, that nobody else will believe.” This disclaimer, which appears during the closing credits, possibly should have introduced The Electric Man—and in another reality, perhaps it did. Possibilities, be they decisions ill-made, opportunities missed, or words said or left unsaid, are squarely on B. Luciano Barsuglia’s mind, and in his latest film he allows himself to muse at length about them. The impossible is merely an unconceived likelihood flowing from different decisions in a different plane; at the same time, with the free mingling of fate and free will, the end destination—for Barsuglia, you, me, everyone—is never in doubt.
These heady concepts are presented within a Room-style universe of stilted dialogue and non-traditional editing choices. That said, perhaps I feel this way only because I’ve never been to California. Whether it be the Wiseau-isms of San Francisco or the incongruous irritation of every performer in Barsuglia’s LA-set time-slip drama, maybe those are real, and those of us nestled away in a Mid-Atlantic-Accented center of calm are the odd ones. Regardless, there is a lot to overlook while Tracy (the titular “Electric Man”), Quinn (his on-again-off-again hippie-styled bowling buddy), Rose (Tracy’s love; possibly a vampire, and presumably a ballerina), and all the rest try to make sense of the strange shifts in the protagonist’s perception. After his fatal (then resuscitative) encounter with a transformer (one whose dilapidation screamed “run!” to a layman like myself), his mundane existence becomes a series of slightly less mundane vignettes as he is forced to converse, and philosophize, on the fly.
Though I am loathe to say it, the word “crummy” is the best way to describe the production. The actors all deliver their lines badly (presumably even Tom Sizemore, as I could not even tell which of the pissed-off, gesture-happy characters he performed as). The discourse was cut awkwardly, not just with strange little pauses, but some bad sound editing cutting off the ends of words. And the screenwriting, too, makes me wonder at the language of origin. Who (in LA or otherwise) queries, “Is that what I’m to understand?”; and why the strangely specific estimate, by Tracy’s dead(?) father after being electrocuted by his son, “Shit! That felt like… 110 volts!”
Despite these constant kicks from my belief-suspension groove, The Electric Man did do one thing making it worthy of a highly-caveated recommendation: it made me think. Alternate realities, and their dizzying effects on a psyche, are nothing new, but Basuglia’s contemplations were both considered and, from time to time, rather droll. Tracy chatting in a Lutheran church with a broken-down Jesus, or his late night hospital meeting with Satan (“Please, call me Luke.”; “Is this Hell?”; “It’s Long Beach”), or his reality sliding into a grisly finish—there are interesting things here; fun things, too. And as so often is the case when I encounter a film like this, I am hopeful that the filmmaker goes on to great things—if not in this reality, then at least an adjacent one.
The Electric Man is currently streaming free on Tubi. Should that deal end, it can also be purchased or rented on-demand.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Writer/director B. Luciano Barsuglia (Social Distance, Impact Event) ramps up the strangeness as Trace finds himself dealing not only with his girlfriend Rose (Rachel Riley, Moon Creek Cemetery, Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper) a stripper who might also be a vampire but becoming unstuck in time and space… The Electric Man is a spiritual/philosophical journey wrapped up in the guise of a science fiction/fantasy film.” -Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony (contemporaneous)