What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
After Ron (Onur Tukel) confesses to his wife Nicki (Trieste Kelly Dunn), and their close friends Kate (Jennifer Prediger), and Les (Max Casella, Inside Llewyn Davis) something terrible that he’d done back in college, someone begins sending Ron disturbing packages. When an old indiscretion of his is revealed, Ron believes the culprit is someone close to him, who’s out for revenge.
Ron is not a nice guy —in fact, he’s an asshole. And so are nearly everyone in the Indy production Applesauce. But don’t let that deter you from seeing it; this is one fantastic movie.
The moral of Applesauce should be, “If you don’t want an honest answer to a question, then don’t ask the question.” The film opens with late night talk radio host Stevie Bricks (Dylan Baker, Spiderman 3) encouraging his listeners to call and confess the “worst thing they had ever done.” Most of us would probably just listen, but never actually attempt to call. Not ol’ Ron though, he’s got this secret burning a hole in his soul, and he wants to let that sucker loose —even if it’s to an audience of complete strangers. Although he doesn’t get to tell his story to Bricks, Ron is able to unburden himself at dinner with his wife, and two best friends, Les and Kate; and he’s happy to finally get it off his chest —at least for a little while. Thinking about things later at home, Kate then decides to ask Les about the worst thing he’d ever done. And folks, this is where Applesauce kicks into high gear; it will take you on a wild ride, and you will have no idea how it’s going to end.
Ron is an arrogant narcissist —the architect of most of the bad that happens to him in this film. He does not suffer fools lightly during the good times, so when his life is unraveling, he is a one man horror show —not worthy of anyone’s help or compassion, even though he truly needs both.
After Ron’s cathartic revelation about a horrible thing he inadvertently did in college, he is on the radar of someone who wants him to pay for what he’s done; in the form of some pretty disturbing packages that begin to arrive shortly after his confession. He’s understandably freaked out by it, but what’s more frightening is that he has no idea who’s doing it, or why. I want to feel empathy for Ron, but I don’t —he’s a jerk. However, I do want to see how this situation ends; and I’m willing to accept whatever happens, even if it means that things end badly for Ron —like I said he’s a jerk. Turkel is fabulous as Ron, he plays the “guy you love to hate” perfectly. He is an unconventional choice for a protagonist, because I wasn’t really rooting for Ron, as much as I was rooting against the person sending him the gory packages.
Applesauce is a funny, yet dark tale that takes a fascinating look into the human psyche. It delves into the worst aspects of our nature, and follows each character as they deal with the consequences of the worst thing they’d ever done. For Ron, Nicki, Les, and Kate, that dark nature was always there, but it didn’t flourish until they felt wronged by someone they trusted. After that, all bets are off, and all behavior is justified. We see how these friends cross the boundaries in their relationships with pathological ease.
The acting in Applesauce is superb. It is a low budget film, but the writing and the performances are so spot on, that those budgetary limitations don’t matter.
There’s a lot going on here, the pace is frenetic, but it keeps the viewer in the story from beginning to end. With the deplorable behavior of most of the characters in this film, you might think that pressing stop on the remote is the only solution. But this is such a fantastic movie, that you never even consider that option.
Written and directed by Onur Turkel, who plays Ron, Applesauce brilliantly delivers in rich detail the unraveling of the lives of these four friends, and cleverly intertwines the subplot involving late night talk radio host Stevie Bricks, who is also being sent some very odd packages. Are they related? You have to watch and find out.
Applesauce (Blu-ray), is a 1.78:1 (1080p) production, with decent visuals, but it does show the budget limitations, especially in the classroom scenes where the lighting tends to make things look like a cable access show. However this in no way hurts the effectiveness of this movie. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is adequate, there are moments when the dialogue is so low you have to blast the volume, a move you instantly regret when the frenetic jazz soundtrack kicks in. But that soundtrack is integral to Applesauce, almost attacking the viewer in the more intense scenes, giving us a sense of what the characters are feeling and experiencing. Extras include; deleted scenes, a blooper reel, audio commentary, and trailers from other Dark Sky films.
Applesauce is unique in its ability to make you laugh, in the midst of people doing horrible things to one another.
Applesauce is more than just a dark comedy; it’s a mystery, a thriller, and a character study, all wrapped up into one powerful little independent film. It ponders what we might do when we allow the worst part of ourselves to rise to the surface, and remain there, unchecked.