Inspired by writer/director Mike Egan’s own slight obsession with spray tans, Bronzed combines an unforgettable “WTF!” narrative with strong directorial flair to create an unusual, but darkly pleasurable story about a man’s rather odd approach to sun-kissed skin. Egan’s first attempt at writing and directing outside of the commercial or music video world, Bronzed premiered in the Midnight block at the 2019 SXSW festival—a program which always serves up a selection of shorts perfectly suited to an online audience.
Starring Linas Phillips and Johnny Pemberton (TV’s Superstore), Bronzed centers on a rather intense man with a strange fixation on golden skin, as he prepares for a spray tan appointment at his house. When the person who knocks on the door is not the woman he scheduled with, we soon begin to understand that his motivation might be something more than simple bronzed skin.
The film’s distinct tone is rooted in its screenplay—funny and extremely weird. The narrative is driven by awkward dialogue and peculiar characters, but dig deeper and you’ll find a story about trust, and the anxiety inducing question of ‘who can we trust?’ There’s a tension running through the film which puts the audience on edge, and though the story is farcical, this uneasiness is omnipresent as we get to witness how wild things get when this basic understanding is broken.
Egan’s strong and assured direction is key to the success of Bronzed. Long takes punctuated by sharp edits keeps the audience on their toes, impatiently waiting for what comes next, without ever being sure of the direction the next twist would come from. That pacing choice allows for the situation to settle in before being disrupted in a rather abrupt way, perfectly showcasing the rather contrasting “vibes” of the film’s central characters.
The production value and cinematography make the film visually pleasing, while the performances flawlessly capture the essence of Egan’s words in an extremely entertaining and compelling manner. As the whole atmosphere is set, it is Phillips and Pemberton and their comedy chops that really lift the film to new heights, by portraying their characters as both utterly ridiculous, but somehow believable!
Fresh off its world premiere at SXSW festival, Egan’s successful debut in the narrative world has inspired him to think about turning Bronzed into a feature, whilst also working on developing other projects in both the short and feature length forms.