Tribeca review: Rami Malek’s Buster’s Mal Heart is like a feverish dream

Rami Malek as Buster in Buster’s Mal Heart.
Rami Malek as Buster in Buster’s Mal Heart. Pic: Shaheen Seth

Director-writer Sarah Adina Smith has tailored a film perfectly suited to its star Rami Malek (Mr. Robot).

In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the lead role of the Buster, except perhaps for a young Jack Nicholson.

They both share a mesmerizing stare that the camera captures at once as playful and menacing.

Like Jack, the lead character that Nicholson played in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Malek’s Buster is a man with a young family who finds himself employed in an isolated hotel in the dead of winter.

In from the cold comes a lanky stranger pursued by dark forces and with prognostications of the coming apocalypse. Best to get the family “ready” before the day of reckoning, advises the gangly mystery man with no name.

The rest of the film plays like a feverish dream with flashbacks and alternate realities. DJ Qualls (Breaking Bad) is the perfectly fidgety foil to Malek’s somnolent Buster.

This, the director’s first feature, is a dark psycho-horror drama that pulls you relentlessly further into the abyss.

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