Austin has Richard Linklater. Baltimore has John Waters and Oklahoma City has Mickey Reece (if we can keep him).
Having completed somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 features in the last decade, his most recent offerings have elevated him from guerilla filmmaker to an auteur whose latest flick, Agnes (2021), received a Tribeca Film Festival (NYC) debut.
Here’s a look at that film, which will be hitting theaters next month, as well as two previous films that are now available on streaming platforms.
If you watch the trailer for Agnes, it would be understandable to think that you’re setting yourself up for yet another demonic possession horror movie that hews to genre with some atmospheric flair. But that’s what makes watching a Mickey Reece movie exciting — whatever your expectations for one of his movies, none of them will be met. Any hopes of a popcorn flick are dispelled after the first act, with the rest of the film a philosophical character drama, and not about Agnes. The eponymous character, played by Edmond native Hayley McFarland, acts as more of a catalyst for self-discovery for the others in the film. Walk in expecting jump scares and you’ll leave disappointed, but a tearjerking final scene could not have been predicted. Regular Reece collaborator Ben Hall turns in a stellar performance as Father Donaghue and appearances by Sean Gunn and Rachel True among others flesh out a film that’s more about a spiritual journey than a reckoning with the supernatural.
Agnes opens in select theaters and will be available on-demand Dec. 10.
Climate of the Hunter (2019)
Reece’s preceding flick is another overplayed horror subgenre film turned on its head. Climate of the Hunter is his take on vampire lore … maybe. When Wesley, a globetrotting writer, appears at a remote cabin after years of absence, a pair of sisters passive-aggressively compete for his attention while Wesley’s son jockeys for power, or at least control, over their relationship in much the same manner. The pacing and atmosphere are definitely more of an arthouse style with idiosyncratic flair throughout. Ben Hall plays Wesley and really nails the character, while the sisters and son raise the tension slowly and steadily throughout the film, which escalates very slowly before reaching its maddening crescendo. Like Agnes, Climate of the Hunter leaves the viewer with more questions than it answers. Imagine Dark Shadows with less melodrama and more batshit insanity and you’ll be closer to the mark than a comparison to Dracula (though there is definitely a creepy Nosferatu scene that’s definitely shades of Murnau).
Climate of the Hunter is now streaming on Amazon Prime, AMC+ and Shudder.
Mickey Reece's Alien (2017)
Ridley Scott’s Alien this ain’t. A semi-comedic recounting of the lives of Elvis and Priscilla Presley in the days leading up to his comeback concert, all but a single scene is shot in black-and-white. Less a historical drama than a pseudo-surreal character drama, with Jacob Ryan Snovel playing a pitch-perfect off-kilter Elvis to Cate Jones’ deadpan performance as Priscilla, the scenes outside of their relationship make the film work. Elvis’ entourage provides some of the best comic relief, with Reece himself delivering most of the best lines from that group and a dinner scene with Tom Jones and his wife Linda elicits full-on laughter (on a side note, Tom Jones is played by John Selvidge, Reece’s longtime screenwriting partner). Released months before Twin Peaks: The Return debuted in 2017, some of the transitions would seem like they were bitten from David Lynch except Reece did them first. A very minor comparison to Lynch’s Eraserhead could be made though (no spoilers — you’ll know the scene when you see it).
Mickey Reece’s Alien is now streaming on Alamo Drafthouse On Demand, along with five other Reece films that can be rented or purchased independently or as a “Six-Pack.”