Wally’s surprise birthday party turns weird after an existential reaction. Jordan Michael Blake directs “Birthday Boy,” an unsettling portrait of emotional whiplash shot with a family camcorder, which contains years of unrelated home videos that occasionally bleed through. Everything seems rather normal at first: a group of friends have planned to meet Wally at his house and bombard him with celebration and well-wishes. But Wally does not react as expected and instead enters an almost trance-like state, where all he can do is mutter about ineffective daily affirmations while publicly exposing layers of vulnerability (“all my weaknesses make me unique”). Blake specializes in odd behavior (see also last year’s “Two Words,” and 2018’s “Clean Blood”), that can shock the viewer to consider what happens when commonplace exchanges are replaced with unhinged manifestations of hidden interior states of mind. -KA.
Written, Directed & Produced by Jordan Michael Blake. Starring Bill O'Neill & Danielle Marcucci. Produced By Gregory Barnes, Ian Blair, Jake Miller. Executive Producers: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker. Additional Dialogue: Bill O’Neill & Danielle Marcucci.