Real Life Madness Becomes Reel Life Madness with DO IT YOURSELF

Based on a true story Do It Yourself is a Greek crime thriller that connects various pieces of an internet puzzle kicked off by an anonymous forum post, a porno, and a small time crook caught up in the world of mafia double crosses. Directed by Dmitris Tsilifonis, the film reveals its self aware nature with its voiceover recalling how “Greek action films are wannabe Hollywood knock offs” and from there Tsilifonis calls his shot. This will not be one of those films. And it’s not… for better and for “meh”.

Opening on the confession tape of a bloody man, we are introduced to Alkis who is laying out a murder conspiracy to a camera. It is then revealed that a whole film crew is there and that in fact the blood is fake. The film crew leaves with the footage and suddenly, Alkis becomes very panicked and informs that he will be killed and that so will others. Suddenly a mob boss and lawyer enter the room. They reassure of a man named Daniels’ impending release and Alkis once again re-attempts escape. He calls a hitman for help and is then promptly off sneaking around the building looking for exits to reveal that this is one of the largest porn studios in the world. In an odd way it suddenly feels like Die Hard but Nakatomi Plaza is owned by pornographers and there’s no Christmas party, just a sudden mafia dispute that has many a web to spin. Alkis finds his tape and its revealed that he was being played for another’s intentions, only Alkis reveals that he had his own intentions as well for the tape and then of course the man who set him up held his own intentions and his partner had other other intentions. A very long and convoluted scheme of rotating bad guys revolves around this video tape and would ultimately feel like bad writing if it weren’t for the truth of the events.

But this is where Tsilifonis really shows his stuff. With his kinetic camera work, there’s an energy that keeps the action at pace and makes good use of confining us in rooms to feel the trappings of Alkis. There’s some very interesting effects in the earlier half that shows us more of the character’s mind playing out on screen such as reading lips as words on a wall or the schematics of a window he has to disassemble. Along with his use of voice over, there’s a great effort in getting us into the characters head. This works as an engaging effect but like any movie with a complicated plot there are several roadblocks of flashback and exposition that snap us out of the intensity for the sake of plot points before the story can continue. It’s a difficult thing to address but Tsilifonis manages to put it all together at a pace that doesn’t feel like too much of a spin out from the story.

Saving the best for last, the ending finally reveals why it was that this story of double crossing pornographers and mafia was made into a movie. The story was initiated by a man watching porn who noticed the same room was used for a killer’s confession tape that went viral. Naturally the man posted about it onto a 4chan forum and soon enough internet sleuths cracked the mystery. A hook saved until the very end to try and cinch up all the complication we’ve processed into understanding why this story was made into a movie. It seems odd for the hook to be so far off at the end but perhaps that was the carrot on the stick all along for this twist and flashback ridden venture into the world of porno, confessions, and mafia power struggles.

Jon Chamis
Black Soul / Metallic Heart
Jon Chamis is a screenwriter from Vermont whose fascinated by all films weird, horrific and macabre. From praising Bergman to defending Rob Zombie's Halloween, Jon likes to explore any artist striving to push boundaries and can be found in the parking lot before any matinee showing of a new release. You can catch him over at Letterboxd to chat about film.
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