Over the last few years big-budget Hollywood fare about ghosts and paranormal activity has exploded onto movie screens. Typically filled with frightening physical manifestations and laden with special effects, they reach far beyond the scope and budgets of most independently produced features.
But now there’s CARRIED AWAY, an independently produced comedy-drama from thirty year film industry veteran Tom Huckabee.
On its surface CARRIED AWAY is a witty, incisive examination of the dynamics of the modern family. Yet the film’s tagline, “A human comedy,” is a literary reference to Balzac’s “Human Comedy,” a collection of interlinked novels in which characters continually reappear and, as Huckabee puts it, never really die.
As the writer-director of this unconventional tale, he has infused his story with a spirit from the past whose omnipresence is nearly palpable.
At the film’s center is Eddie, a young Hollywood protégé who returns home to Texas for the holidays to find his family mired in dysfunction.
His parents are on the verge of divorce; his youngest brother awaits trial on charges of dealing marijuana; and his eldest brother wallows in anger and self pity after recently turning thirty.
But worst of all, the family’s matriarch, suffering from dementia following a recent stroke, is now confined to a nursing home from which she repeatedly tries to escape.
As Eddie presses his family for clarity on Granny’s condition he is confronted by their overwhelming lack of compassion. For Eddie, the closest to his grandmother of all his siblings, this is the hardest reality to accept.
Eddie grows increasingly disturbed by Granny’s deteriorating state and recklessly takes matters into his own hands. He executes an impromptu nursing home escape and takes to the road, father and siblings in hot pursuit, hoping to deliver his eager yet unstable abductee to a life of freedom in California.
What unfolds is an enlightening road trip across the landscape of the American Southwest, a cross country journey through desert territory that parallels the internal struggle of CARRIED AWAY’S onscreen characters as they traverse the difficult terrain of familial strife.
But the character whose presence looms most largely within the family never makes a physical appearance onscreen. “In a sense, he is a ghost,” says Huckabee.
That person is Eddie’s grandfather, a wise, gentle patriarch who died while Eddie’s father Rex was still a youth. Left to care for Rex alone, Granny’s guarded nature made her ill-equipped to handle her son’s emotional fragility.
The loss of the family’s spiritual anchor created deep scars and left a painful rift between mother and son. This sense of alienation has translated into Rex’s relationships within his own family – a pattern that threatens to repeat itself in the next generation.
Over the course of Hucakbee’s entertaining narrative his characters begin to recognize how strongly the people and events of their past have influenced the course of their lives.
Amidst the humor, drama and candor of CARRIED AWAY is material that resonates deeply with audiences, especially those dealing with issues of elder care.
It is material extremely close to Huckabee. When asked how much of the film is autobiographical, he responds, “Everything – well, except for the abduction part.”
He was so compelled by his own personal experience he wrote the screenplay fully intending to undertake the difficult task of producing it independently. He adds half-jokingly, “I wanted no one to blame for the outcome but myself.”
Huckabee completed his project for under $300,000 employing the revolutionary RED ONE tapeless digital camera, which gives CARRIED AWAY the stunning illusion of a movie shot on film. The film’s high production values also translate into strong performances and a wonderful soundtrack by Texas ensemble The Theater Fire.
YOUR BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT FILMS NOT COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU...This blog is dedicated to promoting the art of independent filmmaking. The films profiled here are conceived and created outside the studio system and are brought to you, the public, without the aid of a major distributor. Though they might experience a limited theatrical release, they will largely be available to wider audiences through outlets like Netflix, YouTube or by direct purchase.