REAL COOL TIME (2023) – Review

A review by Nathan Thomas Milliner 

You’ve busted your ass for years, writing music reviews and articles for some storehouse music rag bringing exposure and praise to countless acts, all the while watching their careers flounder or soar. And now they are ready to cut their ties with you. But what if opportunity knocks and the story of a lifetime falls into your lap? 

Juliya is that writer, and she has the 411 on the location of singer/songwriter/guitarist Devin Crane of the now popular rock band “Devin Crane & the Ragged Way.” Juliya was an early supporter and gave Devin the push she needed and she feels she is owed for her part in getting her there. 

Having just returned from her first European tour, hiding away to write the follow up record to their big break out album, Devin is also escaping a recent controversy while she was overseas. After hearing of the sudden death of her beloved foster sister Myca, Devin reportedly snapped and attacked another singer, eating off part of her face. 

Just the kind of exclusive sensational story that can put Juliya back on top! 

On a stormy night, she forces her way into the apartment of the lethargic Devin Crane who doesn’t want to talk, doesn’t want her company, only wanting to warn the overzealous reporter that she should get out  now! 

Thus, is the set up for writer/director Matthew Packman’s new short film “Real Good Time.” A 25-minute mystery to uncover what’s going on with this damaged rock star to spark instant career success at all costs for one desperate reporter. The film is also a follow up to his previous feature film “Morbid Colors” which told the story of Devin and her foster sister Myca hunting down the one who turned Myca into a vampire.  

A handheld shot film consisting of multiple oners (I counted about 6 total shots in the first 20 minutes) and colored and lit with a grainy, heavy contrast, teal, yellow and orange palette compliments to Director of Photography and colorist Jakob Bilinski (Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh) who also served as producer and co-editor with Packman. 

The use of handheld oners with several mirrors and lighting FX show an experienced handling of precision choreography executed by both cast and crew. Though I did feel at times, a few inserts or close-ups may have helped the visual storytelling and connection to the characters. Especially at times when the camera stays wide and still while lengthy conversations are going on. 

Alice Shen (Both Ways: The Movie), plays Juliya with tenacious drive, not asking but demanding what she feels she is owed. 

Lanae Hyneman (who also in Packman’s Morbid Colors) reprises her role as the broken Devin Crane, looking exhausted and not able to fight off what only she knows lurks within the apartment with them. 

Looking at the credits, it’s clear that the film was made by a skeleton crew which probably consisted entirely of Packman, Bilinski, audio recorder and possibly actress Kara Gray (Morbid Colors) who appears as Myca. Which makes sense given the tight quarters of the apartment setting and the labyrinthine nature of the blocking in the one shot direction. 

Packman and Bilinski are two of the stronger filmmakers working in the Indiana Independent horror filmmaking scene and Real Cool Time is a Real Good Time to spend 25 minutes.