Based on Ronald Hugh Morieson’s novel of the same name, Jason Stutter’s cringe-worthy new film follows Cedric (Hayden Frost), a lanky Harry Potter lookalike, as he teams up with a tubby blowhard, Mervyn (Heath Franklin), and an anaemic oddball nick-named “Spook” (Jemaine Clement), to photograph and blackmail adulterous couples around town. Cedric is a bookish loner who’s bullied at school and ignored at home—and, making matters worse, his dad, played by Tim Finn, has been driven mute by his wife’s death and embarrasses his son by building an impossibly tall tower out of scrap wood and other bric-à-brac in their front yard.
When the trio accidentally photographs the object of Cedric’s affection, they find themselves in the titular quagmire. Everything about this film—the jokes, the dialogue, the Shortland St. actors popping up as background characters—is more painful to sit through than Stutter’s previous outing, Diagnosis: Death—and that’s saying something, considering that film felt like a collection of B-roll footage mashed into something barely resembling a feature. Heath Franklin is horrendously miscast as the aforementioned tubby sidekick: the Australian comedian is best known for his painfully stupid impersonation of the notorious criminal Mark “Chopper” Read on the Australian sketch comedy series The Ronnie Johns Half Hour, where his catchphrase “Harden the fuck up!” is apparently been lapped up by cult audiences. Tim Finn’s muzak-like reggae-flavoured theme song, which he admits he put together in only “a couple of hours,” is either a perfectly-calibrated piss-take referencing his early Split Enz days, or a disaster that hopefully no one will remember long enough to hold against him.
If we can make films as marvellous as Boy, it stands to reason we’d also fund our fair share of tragic disasters like Predicament.