After a couple of years of begging, Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse has finally been released on disc. Unfortunately, it isn’t on Blu-ray but this is a solid DVD.
I’ve written about these two before, Diani & Devine, How Hollywood Sucks, and One Reason to Be Hopeful. It’s part of my continuing lament, “Why are all the best artists destined to eke out modest livings while their work goes underappreciated?” It’s my second-longest-running lament after, “Why do film critics suck so much?”
The plot is straightforward. Diani & Devine are two young people romantically and professionally involved. They constitute a comedy team that, much like themselves, has had some success but not the kind of financial success that would come from a normal job.
They don’t even know how they are going to pay the rent. But luck is with them: the apocalypse starts! They pay rent with a bad check and hit the road to find a friend at a commune. Thus, it becomes a road picture.
They find that they will not be allowed to join the commune. So they roam around the desert for many weeks. Along the way, they run into the real estate agent Ed from their first film, The Selling. But ultimately, they make it to a libertarian lodge that captures them with the intent of hunting them for sport and then eating them.
They escape only to find themselves walking down an empty road into uncertainty just like Chaplin and Paulette Goddard at the end of Modern Times. (In the commentary, Gabriel Diani mentions this connection explicitly.)
Audio and Video
The film looks great. That isn’t too surprising for the outdoor scenes. Most of the film takes place in the desert after all. But most of the third act is at night and it’s just as sharp as the daytime shots.
At the same time, it is a DVD. So there is no 2K — much less 4K. And I get the impression that the source material would easily support it. It wouldn’t be the first time an independent filmmaker got me to buy the same film multiple times. Right, Bookwalter?!
The audio is presented only in Dolby Digital 5.1. I’ve only listened to it in stereo, however. It sounds fine. I would have preferred a bit more audio separation when Diani & Devine do their stage act. But it’s mixed to be natural. The sound comes from the characters. And if I wanted greater clarity, I ought to set up a 5.1 system.
The film has optional subtitles that are mostly dead on. And although the text is small, it is white with a black border so always readable.
It is separated into ten parts with 1 being the beginning and 11 being the end. But there is no menu for it.
Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse offers a decent selection of extras. But they have left out quite a lot that would fit on a Blu-ray release. In particular, I was disappointed that the DVD did not include a live performance of their act. Another missing feature is a substantial making-of documentary. And there is no trailer.
The main extra is the feature audio commentary with Etta Devine, Gabriel Diani, and co-producer and editor Chad Meserve. It’s worth a listen. It includes a lot of details about the production (especially from Diani) while being largely entertaining.
The Cutting Room Floor
An edited 2:53 sequence of deleted and alternated scenes from the film. It provides a bit more context but is mostly just fun. Includes subtitles.
A set of “bloopers” lasting 2:18. Three of them feature Devine sneezing. Includes subtitles.
First Half of Production
This 3:57 section features all the clapperboard shots from (presumably) the first half of the film. When I realized this was all it was, I actually laughed. But since I’ve spoiled the surprise, I recommend avoiding it. You can watch it with subtitles if you’re into it.
Alternate Blackout Scene
Ryan W Kimball created an animated version of the blackout scene where we get to see the eyes of the principals (and their dog). In the commentary, they said that they didn’t use it because test audiences found it too whimsical. But it does kind of go along with the ending. It includes subtitles.
Kickstarter Campaign Video
This 2:09 video was created for their Kickstarter campaign. This one is very good — especially how it shows their early conception of the film (which is a lot like its final form).
It refers to other videos, which are sadly not found here. It also lacks subtitles.
I liked this film a lot when I first watched it. But it’s grown even more on me over time. There’s a lot to it. It’s layered. And there’s something about the Road Picture contrast with the Mad Max scenery that makes the comedy stand up over time.
The script is excellent — the biggest problem with most independent films. (Why?! It’s the one thing you can get right without spending any money!)
But it’s helped greatly by a far better cast than most films of this budget ($100,000) ever manage. And they all seem to be having a great time getting their goof on. Of particular note:
- Amir Talai as the personification of everything wrong with Hollywood and humanity more generally.
- Janet Varney as a nice survivalist with her latently homosexual husband Jonathan Silverman.
- Kirsten Vangsness and Arye Gross as hippy survivalists.
- Cole Stratton as Ed the real estate agent.
- Kitty Swink and Barry Bostwick lead a great crew of libertarian cannibals.
- Bryan Coffee as the ESL guy with a unique way of explaining cannibalism.
The film stands on its own as a work of art. But I also think the joy of the people involved with it comes through. It all seems effortless from the camera work by (I assume) Matthias Schubert to the charming score by Geoff Mann.
Buy Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse
You can watch Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse on Amazon Prime. But I think it’s worth getting the DVD. For one thing, you’ll be supporting artists who deserve your support. And this is a film that is worth watching at least a couple of times.
The DVD is just $9.99 and a small amount of shipping directly from the filmmakers. I suspect it will eventually find its way on to Amazon, but it isn’t there yet.