At first glance, Todd Berger's The Scenesters is a murder mystery about dying hipsters, and a cat-and-mouse between filmmakers, detectives, and crime scene cleanup artists.
There are hidden clues in the form of indie rock cds left at crime scenes, and a serial killer with a sense of humor. That's where the satisfaction ends.
The promise of an ironic indie film full of snarky commentary on the subculture of hipster- and scenester-dom falls flat. You can ignore the applause (like any true hipster would), because The Scenesters fails to live up to its star-studded expectations.
The plotline is clever; out-of-work filmmakers turn into crime scene videographers who discover clues missed by police detectives and withhold evidence in the interest of making their own masterpiece.
Each murder finds the main characters at the scene, filming (and playing gumshoes) as the clock ticks on solving the case before the next murder.
Scenesters is told as a film noir, a throwback and detective story with a modern twist. It replaces the smoking gun and trench coat with strangulation by guitar string and disheveled hipster sensibilities.
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Where the low-budget film stumbles is in its poor acting and painfully written dialogue. Given, movies of this genre are purposefully over-dramatic; their cheesiness is their charm, and that's OK, because the cliche is forgivable, endearing even, if the rest of the film is substantial.
But The Scenester's cheesiness is torture. Instead of being pulled into a twisty mystery thriller, the bad dialogue isn't clearly defined as a joke, or a result of bad acting that is just seems "sort of funny" -- an all-too-common hipster dilemma.