[Brooklyn Horror 2023 Review] CRUMB CATCHER

Some people are born to sell things. They know how to butter up potential buyers with their charisma before delivering a big pitch they’ve likely rehearsed a hundred times. They believe in their products wholeheartedly or are at least able to convince customers that they do. Whether it be high-tech or a novelty, they can sell any and everything. In Chris Skotchdopole’s confident debut CRUMB CATCHER, John (John Speredakos) is one example of a man born to sell.

You know that from the moment you first meet him. He talks your ear off, does whatever he can to cozy up to you, and instills a belief that you can’t live another minute without whatever he’s selling. There’s an insidious side to someone like John, though. He’s the type who won’t easily take “no” for an answer, which can make you feel trapped in a situation you can’t escape from. Behind the seemingly friendly facade lies something more dangerous.

CRUMB CATCHER is not about John but about newlyweds Shane (Rigo Garay) and Leah (Ella Rae Peck). Shane has written a memoir about his fraught relationship with his father, for which Leah has helped him secure a publishing contract with her boss. Things are already off to a rocky start on their wedding night. Shane’s father wasn’t invited, which has caused some friction between Shane and Leah. He’s also questioning whether he should move forward with publishing such a vulnerable life story, as it will almost certainly hurt his father deeply.

The morning after the wedding, the two drive to a secluded estate in the Hudson Valley (owned by Leah’s boss) for some quiet time together. Later that evening, they receive a visit from John, an employee of the wedding venue, who drops off their wedding cake topper. Shortly after, John insists on demonstrating to them his latest invention, which he believes will revolutionize the dining industry – the “Crumb Catcher.”

The arrival of John and his wife Rose (Lorraine Farris) is when the film takes on the form of a darkly comedic home invasion. CRUMB CATCHER is a bit slow-going in its first leg, allowing us to spend considerable time with Shane and Leah before things spiral out of control. In a post-film Q&A, Skotchdopole expressed that the film is foremost a love story and that everything else is secondary to Shane and Leah working out the kinks of their relationship.

For a four-piece ensemble like this to work, each performer has to give it their all. Garay and Peck are a charming on-screen couple that effectively sell the chemistry of newlyweds. Speredakos is a real highlight here, and there’s a clear throughline in the evolution of his character. I once heard a saying: “You can tell if a movie is good or not if you believe in the performance of the cop character.” If we were to apply that saying to an entrepreneur, then CRUMB CATCHER sold me.

Having been developed over several years, shot over 30-something days, and then sound mixed for a month, CRUMB CATCHER is impressively polished for a debut, especially given that it revolves so much around messiness. Messy crime, messy people, even the invention from which the title derives is for cleaning up messes. Shane and Leah’s relationship is front and center, though, which can only be cleaned up through honesty and communication. Not by some gimmicky conversation starter.

CRUMB CATCHER had its N.Y.C. premiere at the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest on October 13th, 2023.

Tom Milligan
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