drama/mystery, 127 minutes, not rated, 3 chiles
Calliope’s boyfriend’s marriage proposal comes just seconds before she has a full-blown seizure. The seizures keep coming, stumping her doctors and unlocking buried memories of a sordid past with a man named Billy. Our introduction to “Dead Billy” ( John Hardy), so-called because of a near-death experience in Vietnam (which may or may not actually have happened), comes by voice-over narration in one of the film’s many surreal montages depicting the memories that haunt Calliope (Lauren Myers). Still a young woman, Callie was much younger when she shacked up with Billy a decade earlier.
This indie from director Scotty Milder weaves its way through Callie’s flashbacks to slowly piece together a horrifying narrative. When Calliope, named after the muse of eloquence, finds a broken statue of her namesake in her home, the mystery at the heart of Dead Billy takes on sinister overtones as her search for answers reveals a life of violent sexual abuse and manipulation. The film, shot in Albuquerque, is claustrophobic and at times disturbing in its realistic depictions of violence — but it also has moments of genuine tenderness. Myers carries the film, and she is particularly effective as a survivor weighing the cost of her emotional entanglement with a dangerous man. — Michael Abatemarco Violet Crown, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21