Joel Potrykus

6.8 Ape (2012)
7.0 Buzzard (2014)
6.5 Relaxer (2018)

Joel Potrykus, formerly a stand-up comedian in New York, debuted as a filmmaker with Ape (2012).

Buzzard (2014) is the portrait of a professional cheater of the system who gets into a dead end and becomes a sociopath. The film has a cryptic ending.

Marty is playing a videogame when suddenly he gets angry and smashes the device. Marty closes a bank account in the bank where he works. And then he asks to open another account in the same bank: there's a small reward that he cashes. He repeats this trick every six months. He is just a temporary worker at the bank and finds ways to do as little work as possible. At home he calls his mom and pretends that he is about to be promoted. At work he orders expensive office supplies claiming he needs them for his work... and then returns them to the store and cashes the refund. Marty is also designing a videogame glove. His boss Carol asks Marty to take care of refund cheques that have been returned because they were mailed to a wrong address. Marty forges the payees' signatures and cashes all of them. His friend and coworker Derek warns him that he could get arrested. Marty threatens to kill Derek if he tells their boss. At home Marty cuts his hand and then fakes a workplace injury so he can get compensation from the bank. Marty reports to his boss about the cheques and learns that the bank receives an image of each cheque when it's cashed, so they know who cashed it. Marty freaks out and asks to stay in Derek's basement. His luck also changes at the store where he gets refunds for the things that his office buys: a new clerk refuses to issue the refunds sensing a scam. Locked in Derek's basement, Marty builds the videogame glove he's been working on, with a design inspired by the character Freddy Krueger of horror movies. Marty gets into an argument with the cashier of a convenience store who cheats him of the change, and Marty vandalizes the store, an action captured on the store's security camera. He then gets into a violent fight with Derek and forces him to lend him money. Marty leaves town with the little money he still has. He checks into a hotel that costs him almost all the money. The self-inflicted cut is infected and he bandages it with plumbing tape. Before going to sleep he sharpens the blades of his glove. Marty still has some of the stolen cheques but his bank account has been frozen. He moves to another hotel. He makes a duplicate of the room key. The following night he sneaks into the same room using the duplicate key, so he doesn't have to pay, but in the morning he is found by the cleaning lady. The hotel manager wants to call the police. Marty threatens him with the glove and flees. His wound is getting ugly. He tries again to cash the stolen cheques, this time at a regular cash-checking shop, but the owner realizes that it's a scam and calls the police. The owner tries to detain Marty until the cops arrive but Marty pulls out his glove and strikes him in the face. Marty wanders around, still wearing his killer glove, then calls Derek and learns that their boss has been fired. Convinced that he doesn't have anything to fear anymore, he is ready to return to his town and to his job. Passing in front of an electronics store, he stops to look at himself as captured by the security camera and projected on the store's monitors.

The Alchemist Cookbook (2016) is a horror movie with a cast of only black actors.

Relaxer (2018), ostensibly inspired by Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel, is a grotesque kammerspiel confined to a living room with a cryptic finale.

It is almost the end of 1999. Abbie is a young man, sitting shirtless on a couch and playing videogames nonstop, bullied by his sadistic older brother Cam to undergo tests of endurance. Abbie is made to drink milk until he achieves some gaming milestone. He is not allowed to pause. When he wants to pee, he pees into an empty jug of milk, and later Cam pours the pee into the baby bottle that contains milk and makes Abbie drink it. Abbie throws up. Cam then gives him a new challenge: beat a record at the videogame Pacman, a difficult challenge. The reward for setting that record is a lot of money. The catch is that, again, Abbie must not rise from the couch, and use a camera to prove it. Cam hands him the camera and leaves. Cam gives him until New Year's Eve, the end of the century. (The first shot is a 23-minute unbroken shot). Abbie calls his friend Dallas to bring him food. Abbie does not rise to open the door. Dallas is incredulous when he hears of the challenge. Abbie asks him to do things for him, and refuses to leave the couch. Dallas is useless: he refuses to give him the two large Coca Cola bottles that he bought for him because Abbie cannot pay him, and the Pacman videotape that he boasted about is a Pac-Man cartoon. Next, Abbie is visited by a janitor, Jim, who speaks in a foreign language and tells him that they need to spray the filthy apartment to kill bugs and asks him to leave for twelve hours, which Abbie refuses to do. His friend Arin comes to visit. Arin knows that the challenge is impossible because of a technical glitch. Arin knows that the contest is just a publicity stunt. We learn that it's the 25th July, five months from the end of the year. Arin tells him about a player, Jeffrey Yee, who created a pattern that can help him but it requires extreme speed of execution. Arin used to work with Abbie. Abbie asks about another coworker, Cortez. And Cortez shows up: he's Abbie's boyfriend now. Cortez tells Arin that Abbie's father is in prison for molesting a boy. Abbie has been told that it was all a misunderstanding. It all happened far away from Abbie because his father left him when he was still a child. Cortez upsets both Abbie and Arin. Abbie puts on his 3D glasses and causes pain in Cortez's chest. Arin and Cortez leave. It's raining and Abbie is thirsty. Abbie puts on his 3D glasses and cracks a window and kills a bird. He has supernatural powers. He then uses a tripod to hang a glass outside the window, all without leaving the couch. But the contraption doesn't work and he loses the glass. He calls Dallas for help, but Dallas hangs up. Abbie uses the tripod to make a hole in the wall. It's a bad idea. He punctures a pipe and it turns out to be the pipe of the neighbor's toilet: when the neighbor flushes it, shit sprinkles on Abbie's face. Abbie keeps messing with the pipes until he punctures a pipe that sprinkles clean water that he can drink. Days go by and Abbie, always sitting on the couch, goes mad. He grows a beard, wears a newspaper for a hat, lights a fire on the coffee table to roast some food... Finally, it's New Year's Eve and firecrackers explode in the sky. We hear chaos in the streets celebrating the new century but also perhaps the beginning of the apocalypse. Abbie screams Cam's name. Finally someone comes to visit: Cam and another man called Joao. Abbie has fallen asleep. They wake him up. Abbie says that he's been lying on the couch since the morning, and now we don't know if we've seen just a dream. Abbie asks about their dad. Cam says that he is probably dead and that people are eating each other: some kind of apocalypse has taken place. Abbie mumbles that he reached the impossible level in the videogame. Cam finds the dead bird and makes fun of Abbie, who has obviously been eating it. Cam further provokes Abbie. Suddenly, loud music erupts out of the stereo, even though there is no electricity in the apartment. Abbie finally rises from the couch, points his trembling hand at Cam and Cam's head explodes. Abbie finally hands a knife to someone whom we don't see.

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