Lightning Bug Robert Hall

Lightning Bug is a unique little film that taps into a number of styles, crossing multiple genres without a care in the world. Written and directed by first-timer Robert Hall, it's hard to deny how much it feels like an autobiography even without the knowledge that he, like his lead character, was a teenage special effects wizard. Knowing this, Lightning Bug feels like a much deeper piece of cinematography based on the trials and tribulations that Hall's characters go through, which isn't unlike the narrative in 8 Mile. Set in a small Alabama town, his story follows Green Graves (Grounded For Life's Bret Harrison), a teenage visionary who hopes one day to make it out of his oppressive surroundings and head to Hollywood and work in special effects. However, Green has many obstacles, including poverty, his horror-loving girlfriend's (played by That '70s Show's Laura Prepon) Bible-thumping lunatic mother and his stepfather, an abusive and violent drunk. Finding solace in designing the town's famous haunted house, Green quickly finds his life facing a number of tragedies that put his dream in jeopardy. Not without its glitches (i.e., where does Green get all of his money to pay for the latex and gadgets to make his masks and monsters? What happens to his younger brother in the end?), this former X-Files and Buffy FX man has made an impressive debut that is full of ambition and promise, hinting that he will only get better with his future projects. Included with the DVD are a number of extras, the most significant of which is "Luciferin," a worthwhile "behind the scenes" look at how this small indie flick got off the ground, including in-depth chats with the cast and crew. Plus: commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes. (Anchor Bay)

Cam Lindsay