When we first meet Marty, the impudent slacker in director Joel Potrykus’ film Buzzard, the impression he makes suggests we’re about to see a film we’ve seen before: another rude, jokey portrait of an unappealing loser. Marty is running a little scam on the bank where he works, closing out his checking account and then immediately opening a new one to score the $50 signing bonus the bank is offering. Marty’s face, long and bug-eyed, is captured in one unbroken, five-minute shot, his sour expression barely concealing his disdain for the system he is gaming.
Even though we might admire Marty's petulant audacity, we also want to slap him. The scene, which slowly sinks its talons into you, sets the unsettling tone of Buzzard, a surprisingly compelling and often brilliantly original independent film. By the time it’s over, whatever skepticism you brought to the movie has been torn to shreds.
Director Potrykus composes his film with an eerie calm. Most of the sequences are single takes. They slowly build to an atmosphere of queasy menace, before cutting abruptly to blackouts. Some of the scenes are sandblasted with screaming thrash metal, some play out with a generic background hum. Others stare back at us like hallucinations. All feature Marty and his misanthropic scowl.