StashThis pic could have been good.  As one of the (very) few viewers who were actually looking forward to STASH prior to its release, I can attest that it had potential.

A modestly budgeted SOV-er, STASH was the 2007 feature debut of novelist Jay Bonansinga, whose publications include the nineties horror paperbacks THE BLACK MARIAH and SICK, and also several WALKING DEAD tie-in books.  With STASH Bonansinga was adapting his own 2003 short story of the same name, which had an arresting premise involving a service called Discreet Removals that specializes in breaking into the homes of recently deceased men and stealing their porno mags and videos before the guys’ relatives can find them.  The flick is presented as a mock documentary about the service, and for at least half its running time is lively and interesting, not to mention quaintly nostalgic in its depiction of a world in which porn is disseminated in print rather than digital format.

Brian King is almost good as Jimmy, the young man who headlines Discreet Removals, with Tim Kazurinsky and Marilyn Chambers making a couple brief but memorable appearances as his estranged in-laws.  Jimmy’s latest client is a creepy dude known only as Mr. X (Jim Carrane), a children’s entertainer who warns that not all the items in his stash are pornographic.  Jimmy is naturally quite suspicious of this freak, and decides to break into Mr. X’s house prior to his death to find out what he might be hiding.

It was at this point that the “Stash” short story took a sharp turn into horror territory (revealing Jimmy has a disturbing connection to Mr. X), but Bonansinga inexplicably transforms the film version into a lightweight comedy.  That’s a rather profound miscalculation seeing as how the proceedings, clever though they may be, are never particularly funny (sample gag: Jimmy voicing his concerns about children’s welfare by reciting the opening lines of Whitney Huston’s “Greatest Love of All”).  Then there’s the sappy romance between Jimmy and his long-suffering wife (Mary Kay Cook), which Bonansinga takes way too seriously, to the point that it comes to dominate the third act–which is further tarnished by an obnoxiously cutesy end credits montage of unfunny outtakes.

It seems Bonansinga made an error that’s quite common among indie filmmakers, who all-too-often attempt to graft mainstream Hollywood values onto independent films that haven’t a prayer of competing with bigger budgeted fare.  That was definitely the case here, and STASH’S sad fate–its release was scant even by indie movie standards, while its one and only imdb user comment is headlined “The only way to summarize this movie is to say that it is pure trash”–would appear to support my conclusion that watering down edgy material is not a wise course of action!

Vital Statistics

X Ray Productions Inc.

Director: Jay Bonansinga
Producers: Jay Bonansinga, Lance Catania, Kenneth Nilsson
Screenplay: Jay Bonansinga
Cinematography: Lance Catania
Editing: Lance Catania
Cast: Brian King, Mary Kay Cook, Jim Carrane, Marilyn Chambers, Tim Kazurinsky, Noelle Bou-Sliman, Will Clinger, Cheryl Lynn Golemo, Tom Groenwald, Stacy Magerkurth, Leah Myette, Mary Olivieri