Movie Review: A small-time swindler loses his mind in the darkly funny Buzzard

The classic American underground film may seem extinct, but every year or two, as though through some fluke of recessive creative genes, one pops up in the indie landscape. Buzzard is one of these freaks of nature. Aggressively lower-middle-class, Joel Potrykus’ black comedy tackles loserdom as though it were an existential condition. It’s a movie of nervous cringes and subterranean themes, animated by the antiheroic exploits of a paranoid, Freddy Krueger-obsessed small-time grifter named Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge, remarkable). Set in Michigan in what appears to be the early-to-mid 2000s, Buzzard tracks Marty as he dissolves into pure, psychotic survival instinct—a downward arc that would probably seem extreme if it weren’t digging so deep into the dead-end, just-over-minimum-wage psyche. Think Vampire’s Kiss on a DIY scale, with motels and basement rec rooms in place of brownstones and nightclubs and a bladed Power Glove in place of …

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