Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2016) Review
A strange and childlike man in Romania is obsessed with actress Anne Hathaway. He cons three actresses into taking part in his video to convince Hathaway to come to Romania but things go poorly for all involved.
Adrian Tofei as Adrian
Sonia Teodoriu as Sonya
Florentina Hariton as Flory
Alexandra Stroe as Alexandra
Be My Cat: a Film For Anne is an unusual and intimate portrait of a child-like man obsessed with Anne Hathaway. His bizarre plan to convince Ms. Hathaway to make a movie with him begins baffling, teeters on the edge of becoming disturbing, but doesn’t go where you expect.
Adrian (Adrian Tofei who also directed, produced, wrote and edited) is a slightly peculiar man living in a town in Romania. The film begins (unfortunately) explaining that this is edited together footage found at the “Be My Cat” murder scene and we are introduced to Adrian as he speaks into the camera directly to Anne. Anne Hathaway. You see, Adrian saw Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises and was very taken with her performance as Catwoman. His plan is to shoot a video to convince her to come to Romania and make a movie with him, a movie he calls Be My Cat. To show his prowess as a filmmaker and actor he hires other actresses to perform key scenes with him to sell Anne Hathaway on the whole concept. After we are introduced to his first actor Sonya (Sonia Teodoriu) it quickly becomes apparent that Adrian really has no idea what he’s doing. He makes unusual demands of her and gets increasingly frustrated when she can’t meet his demands. However we discover that Adrian is more than just a goofball with a crush on a famous actress when he chloroforms Sonya and ties her up in a hotel room. As Adrian gets deeper into making his movie his grip on reality seems to lessen more and more with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile there are two other actresses travelling to appear in his film.
Be My Cat: a Film For Anne is a curious little found footage film which made a few waves when the trailer first dropped and the concept for it became known. The idea that there are people out there obsessed with celebrities is certainly a believable concept and Adrian Tofei does a lot early on to paint a credible character for himself. He still lives with his mother, spends a lot of time by himself in his attic, and has this odd child-like enthusiasm which he wears on his sleeve throughout even when he gets completely out of control. Be My Cat shares certain traits with other found footage movies such as both To Jennifer and 2 Jennifer or Matt Johnson’s chilling The Dirties. We spend the entire runtime with a person who may or may not be dangerous but is certainly losing touch with reality, and is also way in over his head. But there’s a curious sense of optimism that pervades the film that gives it a special tone.
Adrian Tofei does a great job early on with this character, the way he speaks in limited English, his repetition of words and phrases and his extremely awkward and odd behavior towards the other characters. It paints a picture of a sheltered and maldeveloped man who in telling “Anne” about his life and as he opens up more about himself the more his unusual nature makes sense but also creates a greater sense of dread for the ladies who are to work with him. The three actresses joining Adrian in this project all have this film listed as their first and only credit (on IMDb at least) but all acquit themselves well. All three convincingly portray women more or less conned into thinking they’re going to be part of some big production, not just stand-ins for Anne Hathaway.
Unfortunately the film struggles to justify being feature length. Be My Cat: A Film For Anne relies very heavily on viewer discomfort to sustain the horror and for a while it works. Adrian is such an odd character and so awkward with other people that is a little uncomfortable being so close to him at all times. His interactions with the actresses are strange and confrontational, blaming them when he doesn’t know how to compose a scene or when he can’t find a solution to a problem. When he looks to the camera and confesses things to “Anne” we become privy to information that brings a sense of dread, this guy is truly not all there. Unfortunately when things start to go bad for our characters the film fails to keep up the horror. The horror ramps up a little but the characters quickly lose their agency, any sense of urgency, and the film just peters out as it drags its way to a dreary denouement. While this film does eschew typical horror conventions with the final act, it’s a risky gamble that doesn’t entirely pay off.
It’s a real shame because this movie does good work within the Found Footage subgenre. You know who is shooting the footage all of the time and establishes the roots of the Adrian character well enough that it adds authenticity. It’s when the lack of self-preservation, a dearth of logic and a lack of suspense springs up along with film getting deeper into horror territory just serves to make the last act feel like a series of disparate scenes. It makes one question whether Adrian Tofei intended for us to sympathize with his character all of the way through. It seems like there is a strong argument for that and whether the viewer stays invested or not will greatly affect the amount of enjoyment to be had here. While one is certainly inclined to reward originality, especially in a horror sub-genre as saturated at this, Be My Cat doesn’t quite achieve what it’s setting out to do. Indeed, that sense of optimism that flows through the film is itself neutered somewhat by the extremely generic opening text that gives the usual explanation of this being footage found at a crime scene. For some reason that opening text, so prevalent in Found Footage, just seems to cheapen the whole thing and is completely unnecessary. It may seem like a small nitpick but it really is an unnecessary addition that doesn’t jibe with the spirit of the film.
A memorable first effort which has some strong foundation and is certainly better than a multitude of Found Footage movies that have come out the last couple of years. Unfortunately Be My Cat: A Film For Anne cannot sustain the early promise and it’s weirdness makes for a really underwhelming final act. For those who are fans of the Found Footage genre however you could very well appreciate this novel take on the style.