Even though I knew it was a low-budget indie with actors I'd never heard of, and made by people whose names I didn't recognize, I still had hopes for The Choke because I loved the plot description. I'm a sucker for almost anything with rock stars or musicians (This is Spinal Tap, The Scream [novel], Still Crazy, Rocktober Blood…) and I'm willing to overlook a lot of flaws for movies in that genre. But The Choke hit so many sour notes, it's… to paraphrase Robert Palmer… simply resistible.
The movie, though looking flat and low-budget right off the bat, does start off somewhat promisingly. We meet The Choke, an up-and-coming Seattle alt rock band featuring cocky Dylan Brown (Sean Cook) on vocals, womanizing guitarist Mike Prichard (Jason McKee), brooding bassist Beatrice London (Brooke Bailey), and serious-minded drummer Robert "Nancy Boy" Nancy (Tom Olson). One of them dies a grisly death within the first seven minutes.
Then nothing, and I mean nothing, even remotely rockin' happens for the next half hour or so. Basically it follows the Dylan's impetuous shutterbug brother, Elliot Brown (Sam Prudhomme), filming his rockumentary on the band as they get set to play a dive called Club 905. The club, which has a limited supply of beer and no décor whatsoever, is owned by the egotistical Guy Johnson (Andrew Parker) and run by his tattooed girlfriend, Star (Bee Simonds). Before long, everyone finds themselves locked in the cavernous club (which was once a meat packing plant) with a crazed killer. Needless to say, they all go their separate ways and are eventually separated from their lives.
The Choke has some interesting, though clichéd, characters, and some of the dialogue is clever but the listless approach to the filmmaking chokes any hopes for anything other than a put-you-to-sleep lullaby.
* Available Subtitles: Spanish – English subtitles in this murky sound mix would have been greatly appreciated.
* Commentary by director Juan A. Mas and crew – didn't listen to this. I can only take so much.
* "The Choke: The Legend Begins" featurette – This featurette is far better than the movie, and I don't mean that sarcastically. If only the film had been this amusing, fast-paced and irreverent, I would have liked it a lot more.
* Trailers - inlcuding one for "Andre the Butcher."
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson