Andrew is a degenerate gambler who has nothing left, so he puts his loved ones on the line and borrows money from the mafia for one last run of luck.
lucked out this past week, as I was sent a Independent feature film that was shot locally in NJ and PA. A thriller called ‘Deadly Gamble’ was the 1st feature film directed by Mario Cerrito. Cerrito was given the difficult task of having a mere 10,000 budget with only 14 days allotted to shoot. The film features the very talented crew consisting of Bernard Glincosky (Andrew Cane),Manny Mertis(Viktor), Michelle Pauls ( Sue) and Lyssa Roberts to name a few. Deadly Gamble begins with a victim tied to a wooden chair in a basement which substitutes as a torture chamber for a very dangerous, unpredictable and sadistic Viktor. This was the 1st time I’ve ever viewed an ‘Indy’ and was hooked within the 1st 2 minutes, But when Viktor’s 1st sentences are “I thought I told you to shut the f*ck up ! Oleg get the chainsaw!”. I think you may understand why I was glued to my seat.
Being in the entertainment business for the past 20 years has made it difficult at times for me to watch a film and not pick apart everything and ruin the experience for myself and people around me trying to enjoy the picture. As an actor watching a film, I sometimes hear my acting coach Kenneth Mcgregor screaming words like “Voice” when an actor isn’t speaking loud enough or “The genius of an actor is in his choice”, so I sometimes criticize my peers in my mind thinking how this or that choice would have been better. However, while watching this film, all the voices in my head were completely silent, and I can’t express to you enough how good it felt to be able to fully enjoy a film again. This is based solely on the great work of the cast and crew of Deadly Gamble.
Writer and Director, Mario Cerrito,31, while only in the business for roughly two years, he is a craftsman in the director’s chair with the potential to become a master craftsman.Usually when I watch a 1st time director he or she tends to expose their inexperience, but with Cerrito, the only green that I envision in his future is cash money. He maximized the effort of his crew to his advantage, and just may have created a star in 1st time leading man Bernard Glincosky. I’ve seen Glincosky work in the past, but in this film he went from good to great in what it seems like overnight. When asked how it felt to knock his 1st feature effort out of the park, Cerrito replied “It is a great feeling to know people see it as that. I feel truly blessed, and I am nothing without the great cast and crew I had behind it. I was born to tell stories and I’m just doing what I love.” Being a fellow actor myself, I’ve often wondered what it took to go from good to great. “Bernard is all class. He shows up with a positive attitude and that reflects on all the actors. He’s a student of the game and is constantly looking for ways to get better.” said Cerrito about his lead man. Having a talented lead actor is so important, but having a talented lead actor with great character is what helps elevate other actors and that is what makes a great film in my opinion.
Glincosky plays the role of Andrew Cane, a likeable guy with a history of gambling problems in the past. Andrew initially seems to have turned the corner owning a house with a lawn, working a fulltime job and having a smoking hot girlfriend Heather (Lyssa Roberts). Lyssa is a very attractive newcomer, who has the difficult task of sharing the screen with a razor sharp Glincosky, and while her inexperience shows at times, she makes up for it with scenes wearing just bra and panties.(Insert male chauvinist) thoughts here, but on the indy scene in the tri-state you either have attractive females that are a little green or less attractive women that can act their asses off. Cerrito made the right choice here as Andrew and Heather are going through a tough time in their relationship; which serves the little disconnect between actors in a helpful way in telling the story. The heart of the story is Andrew Cane returning to his destructive gambling habit. Cane’s indiscretions lead him to asking Viktor for a loan of 70,000. Viktor(Manny Mertis) is not the type of man that you would want on your bad side as evidenced in the opening scene. This is a recipe for disaster, but Caine can’t help himself. With any gambler, being deceitful to friends and family happens 99% of the time. The stress of oweing shady Russian loan-sharks certainly would effect any human beings psyche and Cane is no exception. Uncontrollable laughter came over me as Heather declines Andrew’s initial sex offer, which leads Andrew to belt out “So can you at least lay here and let me do my thing?” Certainly not words that Don Juan would elicit, but the brother did try.
Manny Mertis is another name to keep an eye on, as he jumps out of the screen as the villain known as ‘Viktor’. Every word that comes out of his mouth has meaning and he has a very bright future in this business. Every film needs a guy like Mertis as he just nails the role of a sick and twisted bad guy. He doesn’t overact and I commend him for bringing a real continuity to the role. He doesn’t steal anybodys style and shows in every scene that he means business. Viktors interactions with Andrew Cane are some of the most intense that I’ve seen in film this year, and probably the best that I’ve ever seen in a local independent film. Other surprises from local actors has to be from John Direnzo who plays Frank the used car salesman. I thought that his 1st scene was done exceptionally well as he comes off very likeable. You never the sense that this man is acting at all. Well played sir. Michelle Pauls plays Sue Cane, the mother of Andrew. Pauls is better known as the co-owner of ‘The walking fish’ theatre in Philadelphia and is the most experienced actor out of the crew. She is the real deal here as her hard work and her sharp tools pays off dividends. Michelle Pauls owns it when it counts the most. However Glincosky is the star here as he nails the emotion of a man willing to risk it all. Watching him play his last hand made me relive some unsavory memories as it will any who has known a person with a gambling problem. I really felt a hard punch to the gut followed by a nauseating feeling in my stomach. A feeling I wish on no man or woman. Andrew Cane is a degenerate plain and simple and some scenes hit so close to home that it was tough for me to watch without wincing. Suspending belief, It’s why we watch film, to be entertained and Bernard Glincosky brings this tragic tale to life.
With any independent film, budget is a harsh reality that sometimes interferes with the artform. The only problem that I had with ‘Deadly Gamble’ was the microphone being inconsistent at times, and while most viewers may never notice it, I’m a stickler for details.I was also very impressed with choice of music, as the soundtrack set the tone and matched the tonics of each scene. This film is going to catch a lot of people off-guard as it now available to watch on-demand in most cable providers for 4.99. For the cost of a Grande Starbucks coffee you can be entertained for 90 minutes. I don’t do star ratings, but I strongly suggest you check this out