Relaxer on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

Relaxer gives us something we’ve never seen before: a movie where Abbie is a character portrayed by a man.

Okay, so his name is really Abner, but sticking with it, this Abbey (Joshua Burge) is approaching the year 2000 – when we were told we’d get the Y2K apocalypse – by playing Tony Hawk Skateboarding on his Nintendo 64, but what he really wants to achieve is level 256 on Pac-Man, apparently the “unbeatable” level, yet all the time he considers what he’s doing is relaxing. The challenge is set – by his friend Cam (David Dastmalchian) – and it’s preposterous in that it involves him NEVER leaving his sofa, even though there are times when he’s on his own, so no-one would know if he got up anyway!

I remember how I spent the night before the year 2000. I actually ended up watching the film Strange Days over two days, not realising at first that the film, itself, is set over two days. Okay, so it’s set on Dec 30th and 31st 1999, and I watched it on Dec 29th and 30th 1999, as the 31st, itself, was hogged by having to go to my religious in-laws, at the time, who were having a big do in a church hall, where their highlight was watching a live stream (however it was done back then) of Cliff Richard performing somewhere… actually, it could’ve been on TV.

Either way, I’m not religious and I think it’s a load of bunk, but I do remember going outside, around midnight, to get some fresh air, and reallllly thinking about just naffing off and going home. I would’ve got my ear bent about it the next day, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bored.


Cam (David Dastmalchian) sets the challenge for Abbie (Joshua Burge)

Anyhoo, back to this, and while Abbie sits there in his pants playing videogames, his challenge involves drinking milk for some reason, and the Pac-Man challenge begins because Billy Mitchell is on the front cover of Nintendo Power and he can’t beat the infamous level 256 (but then he lied about his high score on Donkey Kong as well!), although until I saw this, I didn’t realise there was an issue with that level, and I’d never got that far anyway.

The flat is inexorably rank and Abbie is extremely gross for just sitting there in his own filth, so it’s no surprise when the bug exterminators come round; there’s a discussion about Jerry Maguire, and he also gets his friend to bring over a pizza, who tells him, “You’re in this fuckin’ challenge vortex of retardedness!” Too true!

However, will he still complete it?

Overall, this film is interesting, but very odd and I can see it turning into a cult film, but it’s not one I’ll return to time and again.

And watch out for the milk!

If you enjoyed the film, then it has a great picture, as you’d expect from a modern movie, and the music and audio is fine. The extras are as follows:

  • Behind the Scenes (7:05): On-set filming with another camera filming the main camera! Add in some of those not in the room who are watching the playback, as well as lead actor Joshua Burge taking direction.

  • Deleted scene (4:11): The pizza guys deliver… maybe?

  • Rehearsal Footage (10:00): Pre-filming rehearsal with Mr Burge.

  • Milk party (9:02): Shot in July 2001, everyone’s drinking warm milk for one minute.

  • Joel Potrykus short films and music video from the writer/director, there are six: The Ludivico Treatment (1998) (1:39), The Ludivico Testament (1998) (4:09), Coyote (2010) (24:10), Heavier than Air Flying Machines: Follicle Gang (Green) (2011) (2:05) and Test Market 447b (2019) (1:46).

    I’ve glanced at all of these, and they’re incredibly odd.

  • Theatrical Trailer (1:54): Starting with a certain aspect of the milk scene, if you’re going to watch this, I’d check out the film first… not that there’s anything in particular to spoil, plot-wise.

  • David Dastmalchian promos (1:57): Three weird pieces-to-camera.

  • Image gallery: 49 on-set photos. Expect spoilers if you see this prior to watching the fil, so check it out afterwards.

  • Audio commentary: with writer/director Joel Potrykus

  • Buzzard (97:28): In addition to Relaxer, there’s this entire additional movie from Messrs Potrykus and Burge, where, as per the IMDB description, paranoia forces small-time scam artist Marty (Burge) to flee his hometown and hide out in a dangerous Detroit. With nothing but a pocket full of bogus checks, his Nintendo Power Glove, and a bad temper, the horror metal slacker lashes out.

    So, more Nintendo stuff in there. Plus, a ton of extras which I’ll list below. At this point, I’ve only had a quick look at the film, and haven’t gone through the extras, so for a full list of those, check this out:

    • UK premiere presentation of writer-director Joel Potrykus’ 2014 feature
    • High Definition presentation
    • Original stereo soundtrack
    • Audio commentary by writer-director Joel Potrykus
    • ‘Buzzard’: The Rehearsal Cut (2014, 65 mins): alternative version of the complete film comprised entirely of rehearsal footage
    • ‘Buzzard’ at Locarno International Film Festival (2018, 9 mins): short documentary on the filmmakers’ trip to Milan, Italy, shot and edited by director of photography Adam J Minnick
    • Behind-the-scenes footage (2014, 9 mins): a selection of outtakes and on-set material
    • Seven deleted/alternative scenes (9 mins)
    • Hidden ‘Buzzard’ (2014, 1 min): a guide to the ‘Easter eggs’ within the film
    • Image gallery: behind-the-scenes photography
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Festival trailer
    • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

Note also that this whole package is a Limited edition of 3,000 copies, and contains a Limited edition booklet, containing new writing on Relaxer by Nathan Rabin, Joel Potrykus on the making of Relaxer, Caden Mark Gardner on Buzzard, Alex Ross Perry on Potrykus, and film credits.

The main menu is static and silent, with a shot of the lead actor from the cover. There are less than the average number of chapters with 10, and subtitles are in English only.

Relaxer is released this week on Blu-ray.

Relaxer – Official Trailer

Running time: 92 minutes
Year: 2018
Distributor: Anti-Worlds Releasing AWBD003R0
Released: February 24th 2020
Chapters: 10
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.35:1
Disc Format: BD50


Director: Joel Potrykus
Producer: Ashley Young
Screenplay: Joel Potrykus
Music: Neon Indian, Alan Palomo

Abbie: Joshua Burge
Cam: David Dastmalchian
Dallas: Andre Hyland
Janitor Jim: Mahfuz Rahman
Janitor Mal: Madi Bachman
Arin: Adina Howard
Cortez: Amari Cheatom
Joao: Jeen Na
Brad Matuzak: Joe Anderson (voice)