Here’s a high concept film for you: a post-apocalyptic future where violent street gangs battle to the death in high stakes games of Dance Dance Revolution. That’s the basic premise behind The FP, which takes its name from Frazier Park, an unincorporated community in California and about an hour east of Los Angeles. Once used as a location for The Waltons, Frazier Park looks as if it was trapped in a bubble of frozen time and untouched by the outside world.
The FP has a similar feel to it where you’re never quite sure if it’s set in the past, present or future. In any event, two rival gangs, the 245s and the 248s, fight for control of the small town by competing in a fast-paced interactive arcade game called Beat Beat Revelation. For the uninitiated, the game involves matching your moves on a dance pad with the arrows on the screen. The heroic BTRO (Brandon Barrera) of the 248s tragically dies while taking on L Double E (Lee Valmassy), the leader of the 245s. BTRO’s brother, the eye-patch wearing JTRO (Jason Trost), mourns his death and vows to never again play Beat Beat Revelation.
A year later, JTRO is convinced to return to the fold by former 248-mate, KCDC (Art Hsu). In an inspired bit of lunacy, KCDC explains that the 245s have taken over the town’s entire alcohol supply, forcing many to resort to drugs. Without alcohol, there are no bums in the FP and without bums; there is nobody to feed the ducks by the pond. And what is a community when you have no ducks? JTRO must train his mind, body, and soul with guru BLT (Nick Principe) to get ready for his climactic showdown against L Double E to see who will be champ or chump. At the same time, JTRO romances his long-time crush, Stacy (Caitlyn Folley), who has shacked up with his hated archenemy.
The FP is quite clear where its influences lie. The Warriors is one of the most obvious since the movie opens with voiceover narration by James Remar. John Carpenter is another strong influence with the protagonist resembling a baby-faced Snake Plissken. Composer George Holdcraft does a splendid job approximating a Carpenter-esque synthesizer score as well as the J-pop techno music synonymous with the game. JTRO’s road to redemption and his struggles against taunting bad guys comes right out of Rocky and The Karate Kid. The FP even features two training montages, a staple of the sports underdog genre. You can also throw in flicks such as Breakin’ and, of course, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as well as classic video games like Double Dragon.
The FP is a family affair. In addition to starring in the film, Jason Trost co-directed and co-wrote the film with his brother, Brandon, who was also the cinematographer. Brandon Trost also shot Crank: High Voltage and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance for Neveldine/Taylor and their highly kinetic, extremely caffeinated style was another inspiration. Their sister, Sarah, worked costume design and brought back vintage fashions like sleeveless denim jackets, headbands, Flashdance-esque sweatshirts, and moon boots. Finally, their father, Ron, a veteran effects artist, did FX work here and served as executive producer. Ron kept a warehouse to store leftover props and costumes from past movies that were recycled here.
Watching The FP is just as tiring as hopping around on a dance pad. The concept is clever, but the Brothers Trost have a difficult time maintaining interest, even at a scant eighty-three minute runtime. The dialogue consists entirely of bad hip-hop slang with plenty of F-words and N-bombs with the heroes living by the mantra, N.I.G.G.A., Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished. Meanwhile, the game itself chimes in with the occasional “whack” or “stank.” It ceases to be amusing after a while. The rest of the humor is equally juvenile, such as a sequence where JTRO and Stacy share a supposedly tender moment over a tampon. It also hurts that the Trosts are unable to imbue the pivotal Beat Beat Revelation sequences with any excitement or tension. It’s more fun playing video games than watching someone else play them.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. On Blu-ray, The FP certainly doesn’t look like a film shot for only $1 million. The transfer is sharp with bright, bold colors and only occasional softness.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound is luscious thanks to an upbeat soundtrack and plenty of foley effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear.
The Blu-ray features an audio commentary track from Jason and Brandon Trost as they discuss locations, the limitations of low budget filmmaking, and other production anecdotes.
Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished is a three part look at the production of the film. The Making of The FP (21:28) is a behind-the-scenes featurette focusing on the pre-production and the filmmakers’ influences. Costume Designing The FP (8:06) is an interview with Sarah Trost, who discusses how she got into costume designing, working on the film, and where she got the wardrobe. Scoring in The FP (6:09) is an interview with composer George Holdcraft, who talks about the film’s soundtrack.
The FP in the FP: Return to Frazier Park (10:30) follows the Trost Brothers as they return to their old stomping grounds for an outdoor screening of their movie.
The Blu-ray also comes with green & red band trailers for The FP, a digital copy download code, and a booklet with production stills and intros by Rob Zombie and Neveldine/Taylor.
Film Value: 6
The FP was originally a short film and maybe that’s the way it should have stayed. This is a one-note joke stretched beyond the capabilities of the filmmakers. At best, The FP may be considered a future cult classic destined for midnight screenings.