Director: Cary Murnion & Jonathan Milott
Screenplay: Nick Damici & Graham Reznick
Starring: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Arturo Castro, Christian Navarro, Angelic Zambrana
BBFC Classification: 15
A cautionary tale dressed up as an action flick, Bushwick is a blistering and exhilarating look at what would happen if a western superpower went to war with itself. Set in the neighbourhood of New York, which gives the film its title, the flick follows two innocents as they try to survive and make their way through the city to safety when helicopters full of tactically armed soldiers invade. Lucy (Snow) a college student on her way home with her boyfriend when the attack breaks out (killing her beau) stumbles into the care of former marine Stupe (Bautista) and the two form an uneasy alliance as they attempt to keep one another alive in amongst all the chaos.
The film opens with stylishly wide opening shots (and fantastic music courtesy of Aesop Rock) establishing the neighbourhood (and mood) as helicopters carrying soldiers bare down on it. Bushwick then deploys the creative single take method as the camera follows Lucy from the deserted subway to the bullet riddled streets. Directors Murnion & Milott, switching gear from their goofy horror debut Cooties (check it out for a gory, giddy, good time!) craftily stitch scenes together with clever edits to make proceedings appear like a single tracking shot. There are still several cuts here and there, seemingly signalling the end of an act/the beginning of another, but for the most part the long single takes thrust the viewer into the situation as the camera snakes through the city and its erupting bedlam. While this technique has been used before (Russian Ark, Rope, Silent House) it still gives the film a more immediate effect and a real sense of danger as the protagonists plough through the pandemonium. It may not be to everyone’s taste but helps to elevate Murnion & Milott’s film from being a mere action quickie.
While there is plenty of boom and bang, the action viscerally staged, Bushwick generates and sustains a real sense of terror at the idea of something like this happening. As the western world is currently in a climate where an outbreak of violence on this level could happen, Bushwick seems all too (unfortunately) plausible. Tension is maintained throughout and leads Snow and Bautista carry the film well, their characters grounded which contirubutes to the plausibility of the situation. The script, co-written by Nick Damici (the brilliant Cold in July), offers no easy answers either adding to the horror of proceedings: presenting the concept as a “what if” scenario. And it’s a damn ugly, scary “what if”. Ignore the generic artwork, this is a startling and potent piece of genre filmmaking.
Bushwick is released on Blu Ray and DVD October 23rd 2017 from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment. Extras include several featurettes with cast and crew and a trailer.