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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.10.14] Canada comedy thriller drama

Imagine for a moment that your best friend dies. She was a good person who happened to be married to an asshole who happens to be in jail serving time for beating the crap out of someone else. The pair were separated but Ally, your best friend, died so suddenly that the will was never changed. Among her belongings are a stack of lotto tickets and among them, a big winner. Like, $30 million dollars big. Sadly, you can't just go and cash it because of circumstances which will make it obvious the ticket belonged to Ally to begin with and even though she's dead, the executor of her will (her big sister Casey) is a really nice person but a stickler for following the word of the law and she'd end up giving the money to Ally's deadbeat husband.

So what do you do? Do you pretend you never saw the ticket (fat chance, especially when you hate your job and could use that money to do something better with your life), do you come clean to Casey and hope to god that she sees the wrongness of giving the money to the deadbeat or do you conspire to kill Casey so that you can claim the money for yourself? This is the conundrum at the center of Ally Was Screaming.

Admittedly, most people would just claim the money and deal with the fallout but best friends Nole and Seth seem convinced that this option will get them nowhere and observing the discussions as the pair run down the list of options, it soon looks like murder is their best bet for getting the cash except that as they start to plan the deed, things start to go wrong. First they can't figure out how to do it, then their conscience starts to eat at them and just when you think they've figured things out writer/director Jeremy Thomas throws in a curve ball.

Ally Was Screaming is an interesting mix of drama and comedy but not just any type of comedy – a comedy about murder. This could so easily have gone sideways in tone but between Thomas' script and the performances from Charlie Carrick, Giacomo Baessato and the always fantastic Camille Sullivan, the trio of players seem to find the perfect balance between drama and laughs. The movie often plays like a deeply disturbing thriller about two guys plotting murder and trying to convince themselves they're doing it for honourable reasons and though it's selfish and terrible, I found myself starting to agree with Nole and Seth.

I'm still not totally sure how Ally Was Screaming manages to emerge with two likable leads when all they do for most of the movie's running time is plot the murder of an innocent and good hearted person. Part of it is Carrick and Baessato's charm and part of it is that you can see parts of yourself in both of these characters. They're good people who happen to care more about themselves than anyone else. Aren't we all a little like that? That's why Ally Was Screaming is so darn effective: it shows us a version of ourselves that we'd rather pretend doesn't exist.

Darkly amusing, Ally Was Screaming is great showcase of talent for both the actors and writer/director Jeremy Thomas who navigates from drama to comedy to thriller in seamless fashion.

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