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Plot: alien lifeform rids the Earth of politicians, lawyers, and corporations.

I Am Here…. Now is the second of Neil Breen’s religious-patriotic-jingoistic supernatural thrillers and the one where all beloved Breenisms coagulated into their known form. As a faux-New Age spiritualist interpretation of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) it’s built around a Tuscarora Indian proverb and about as incomprehensible as Double Down (2005) before it. Just like the Robert Wise science fiction classic before it I Am Here…. Now too pushes an environmentalist agenda that promotes renewable energy and sustainability while simultaneously addressing more contemporary social problems as poverty, prostitution, and inner-city violence. Las Vegas’ own Christian geek green-Marxist, as Narnarland has lovingly dubbed him, is at it again and I Am Here…. Now is brilliant for all the wrong reasons. “I’m disappointed in your species,also sprach Neil Breen as he clubs the viewer over the head with heavy-handed, overt Christian symbolism. Where royalty-free stock footage goes, trashy braless women follow…

In the Nevada desert a meteor crashes and when the smoke clears a translucent glass paper weight is revealed. Materializing from the glass orb is The Being (Neil Breen) who takes human form and is clad in virgin white robes. Circuitry protrudes from his arms and chest, he bears stigmata on his hands and occassionally reverts back to his alien form. The Being is omnipotent and omniscient; ageless, and eternal – and he has created the Earth and everything on it as one of his “experiments.” Now, after countless thousands of years, he has returned to observe his creation. In the distance six crosses have been erected. The Being waggles across the desert landscape, passing disembodied doll heads until he comes across a skull. He picks it up saying, “I’m disappointed in your species,” after which he procures civilian clothing from a couple of heroin addicts (Ali Banks, and Tommie Vegas, as Tommie Lee Vasquez). Assuring them that, “it's only temporary,” he zaps them unconscious before imprisoning them in between dimensions. The Being takes the couple’s pick-up and heads for Las Vegas, a den of godlessness and vice. Humanity has fallen for the pursuit of material things and succumbed to greed. Capitalism is on the verge of depleting Earth’s resources and the natural environment is collapsing. The Being is the way, prepare for salvation…

On the sidewalks of Las Vegas Boulevard Cindy (Elizabeth Sekora) and her wild twin sister Amber (Joy Senn) (who looks nothing like her, but who has a similar fashion sense), both environmentalism activists, learn that they have been laid off by the renewable energies company they have been working for. “The poor economy” and “corporate corruption and greed” are to blame. Taking her baby out for a stroll Cindy and Amber discuss what they are to do. Amber suggests Cindy makes a living as a stripper and prostitute. Something which she has been doing all this time, apparently. Meanwhile a corporatist (George Gingerelli), politician (Jason Perrin), and lawyer (Ron Schoenewolf) are conspiring to keep renewable energy such as solar - and wind-turbine power from becoming legislated. On the other end of town Amber’s no-good boyfriend Aron (Med Jast) turns to petty theft and joining the local street gang to make ends meet. En route to their first escort job together Cindy and Amber run into the gang Aron wants to join. The Being helps a cancer-stricken, terminally ill senior citizen (Herbert Allen, as Hebert Allen) in realizing his dying wish: to see the “welcome to Las Vegas” street sign. On his way home wheelchair man runs into Cindy pushing her stroller. This prompts The Being to rejuvenate him so that he (Eduard Osipov) can be a family with a strange woman he met mere seconds before. Aron is summarily killed when he fails to pay his respects to his senior hoodlums.

Somewhere after Cindy’s descent into prostitution and before Aron being killed on the street Amber and The Being engage in a steamy affair. Amber feels that she has found the man that can tame her wild ways and make an honest woman out of her. The Being meanwhile has more pressing business to attend to. Business that doesn’t involve fondling women half his age. The Being has selected six corrupt One-Percenters to crucify in the Nevada desert. The crucified ones will act as a fair and final warning to humanity to redeem itself. The selected six One-Percenters represent the classes in cahoots with the drug cartel running cocaine across the Mexican border. The same cartel that operated a prostitution ring that employed Amber part-time. On his way across the desert The Being returns the two heroin addicts from whom he borrowed the ragged clothes. Amber, realizing that she has known The Being in lives past, desperately chases him across the desert begging to take her with him. Her tearful pleads fall on deaf ears as The Being reverts back to his alien form before returning to his translucent glass orb and departing for the stars from whence he came. If humanity fails to redeem itself now that the political –, corporate -, and financial class have been wiped out he will return to destroy Earth and everything on it once and for all.

When Mainland China pushes their environmentalist agenda of renewable energy they have the wisdom to cast models/hostesses as Frieda Hu Meng-Yuan (胡梦媛) or Miki Zhang Yi-Gui (张已桂) in productions as Angel Warriors (2013) or My Magic Girlfriend (2017), respectively. When Neil Breen does it, he casts complete unknowns. Breen is never in the habit of casting the same actress twice and unlike Rene Perez he doesn’t seem to have a muse. Perhaps Neil Breen uses his movies as preamble to meet beautiful women. Who knows? I Am Here…. Now is prescient in the casting of Joy Senn as she’s the embodiment of Breen’s ideal vision of feminine perfection. In that sense Senn is a precursor to Jennifer Autry, Victoria Viveiros, and Sara Meritt. Joy Senn and Elizabeth Sekora are average looking and not nearly as well-endowed as later Breen babes and their wardrobe consists of unbuttoned tank tops with spaghetti straps and short denim shorts exclusively. At one point both strip out of their tiny bikinis but immediately cover themselves up for modesty. Likewise is Tommie Vegas wasted on a glorified cameo appearance. Vegas is no Aria Song or Ginny You but she doesn’t exit without having her blue tank top fully unbuttoned and her breasts nearly falling out first. Of the entire cast only Tommie Vegas and Eduard Osipov have something resembling an actual career. Vegas would probably feel right at home with The Asylum, TomCat Films, or Rene Perez.

Breen’s disdain for the political – and corporate elite is well established by this point. While he’s highlighting a very real problem within global politics, namely corruption and greed, his solutions are usually quite drastic. In Double Down (2005) he caused the death of millions of innocents across a tri-state area by spiking the watersupply with anthrax. He also threatened mass civilian casualties if his character’s demands weren’t met. Here he resorts to similar draconic measures by advocating mass genocide for an entire class. Neil would take a similar stand in his magnum opus Fateful Findings (2013) where his character drove politicians and corporatists to commit mass suicide in public. Notably absent are the rock/mineral lending divine powers, and the lost Lenore that typically is central to driving the plot forward. That his alien resembles Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein from The Misfits is funny enough all by itself. The silicon messiah would resurface again in Pass Thru (2016) (where Breen ascends out of a drug-infested homeless commune) and he would play the titular twins in Twisted Pair (2018). Neil has never hidden his celestial pretensions, and doesn’t so here either. That Breen encounters a pair of heroin addicts in the desert foreshadows Pass Thru (2016).

That Breen is something of a crusader and a defender of the Christian faith was evident as early as Double Down (2005). I Am Here…. Now foregoes what little subtlety (that is to say, none) the past Breen feature had, and is littered with heavy-handed, overt symbolism. To wit, it begins with Breen literally coming off a wooden cross in white robes bearing (one-sided) stigmata; early on there’s a shot of six crosses on a desert stretch, probably meant to resemble mount Calvary; The Being has regenerative powers (he restores at least two clipped roses), and occassionally performs miracles such as healing/rejuvenating the terminally ill man in the wheelchair, which was probably meant to resemble the healing at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-16). Less subtle (but no less overt) is the fact that Amber has angel wings tattooed on her shoulder-blades; and acts as a sort of Mary Magdalene to Breen’s Christ figure. To really drive home the point I Am Here…. Now closes with a re-enactment of the touching the hand of God from the famous Michelangelo fresco The Creation of Adam. The entire thing is wrapped in oblique Native American and New Age mysticism, and the credits include the Tuscarora Indian proverb, “Man has responsibility, not power.” It’s probably meant to insinuate that Breen is concerned about the plight of America’s indigenous peoples, but there’s no hard evidence to substantiate that assertion.

That I Am Here…. Now was ripe for reimagining and expansion was a foregone conclusion. Breen would do exactly that with the double-whammy that was Pass Thru (2016) and Twisted Pair (2018). With his second feature Neil Breen evidenced that he wasn’t shy about recycling concepts and characters, and his apparent god complex wouldn’t diminish in light of his cult following as a fringe filmmaker. Instead of improving Breen seems to sink ever deeper in the throes of insanity. I Am Here…. Now offers no novel insights into the human condition and while the message it’s pushing is relevant enough, Breen fails to make much of a case for, well, basically anything. Neil Breen embodies some of the worst aspects of independent filmmaking. Neil Johnson he most certainly is not. Breen probably loves cinema judging by what he chooses to imitate, but he has no understanding of either cinematic language or any of its technical aspects. The lesser said about his writing the better. It makes you wonder whether there was even a screenplay. As always Breen’s supernatural thrillers are hardly ever thrilling and not nearly as “controversial” or “thought-provoking” as he probably imagines them to be. Not that Breen is any good at action direction either, as Twisted Pair (2018) would amply evince almost a decade down the line.

Plot: paranoid delusional drives aimlessly around the Nevada desert.

If it weren’t for eloquent film vlogger Georg Rockall-Schmidt we probably would never have been exposed to the deranged world of independent Las Vegas filmmaker Neil Breen. Breen was an architect, and one-time real estate agent, who like entrepreneurs-turned-filmmakers Hal Warren and H.B. Halicki before him took to writing, producing, and directing his own films as a bizarre part-time hobby. Since debuting with the opaque Double Down in 2005 Breen has directed an additional four features. Double Down has all known Breen-isms that would make their return, in one form or another, in I Am Here… Now (2009), Fateful Findings (2013), Pass Thru (2016), and Twisted Pair (2018). Once you see a Neil Breen film you can never unsee it again. It has the power to ensnare, or to annoy.

While other directors dabble in easily exploitable genres (action/science fiction or fantasy/horror) Neil Breen is, like Gabriella Cilmi, on a mission. Almost every one of his productions has been thinly-veiled Christian propaganda, filled with heavy-handed, overt symbolism; a gratuitous helping of stock footage and PG-13 nudity (something which has faded out in his post-2013 offerings). Double Down was the first of Breen’s nigh-on inpenetrable metaphorical religious-patriotic-jingoistic supernatural thrillers. Next to Neil Breen, a hack as Tommy Wiseau comes across as soberingly, shockingly lucid in comparison. Truly, Neil Breen is the Christian wingnut reincarnation of Coleman Francis and Double Down is his The Beast Of Yucca Flats (1961) for the millennial and Instagram generation. It will make you pine for the competence of Coleman Francis.

Double Down takes the concept of outsider art to whole new, previously unseen levels. This is fringe cinema taken to the utmost extreme. Neil Breen’s debut is so outré that it has to be seen to be even believed that such a thing exist. It makes for compelling viewing to see every written (and unwritten) rule of cinema broken and trampled upon. The Asylum, TomCat Films, and Kings Of Horror have better directors on average. Helming a feature film is a daunting task under any circumstance and it’s probably down to simple economics that Breen has taken to manning every department possible. As the old saying goes, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should.

There’s something endearing about the idealism of the Neil Breen canon. Every one of his productions handles some important socio-political-economical problem and casts himself as a messianic Christ-like figure that prepares mankind for salvation. The Judeo-Christian rhetoric is a constant in every Breen production, as are trashy braless, blonde and brunette women, ostensibly many years Breen’s junior, who will shed clothes in one or more scenes, but never expose themselves. Double Down is the only truly original Neil Breen feature as I Am Here… Now (2009), Pass Thru (2016), and Twisted Pair (2018) all are loose remakes of existing older properties. Fateful Findings (2013) is a loose reimagining of Double Down even though it’s not acknowledged as such. If you’ve seen Double Down you’ve seen Fateful Findings (2013).

In the Nevada deserts a man sporting a black wifebeater, denims, and snakeskin boots clacks away at various laptops and cellphones. He is Aaron Brand (Neil Breen), a much sought-after covert operative and mercenary for the highest bidder, and he’s caught in an inter-dimensional time loop. He’s a decorated military veteran, a genius computer scientist, and a devoted husband to a loving wife (Laura Hale). One day his wife was assassinated by agents of the very government Brand had pledged his loyalty to. Brand transfers his dead wife’s consciousness into his laptops as an AI construct. In the trunk of his car he keeps her lifeless body in hopes of one day reviving her. Vowing to expose the widespread corruption of his government and bringing those responsible to justice, Brand has planned a relatively minor act of bio-terrorism in Las Vegas. That attack will function as a distraction to a much-larger coordinated act of terrorism that will bring the corrupt government to its knees. Under the threat of detonating explosives in seven strategically important cities and massive civilian casualties Brand will coerce the government into doing his bidding. While he’s preparing and putting his masterplan in motion Aaron is constantly haunted by memories of his dead wife, their shared childhood, all while he’s susceptible to periodic blackouts and sudden fits of clinical depression. Every time he blacks out he’s forced to relive a random timeline from his days as a high-ranking government agent and face his various victims.

One day he finds God (George Kerr) in a cave and is given a rock which he believes to have magical properties. A friend invites him to dinner and Brands lays hands on his friend’s daughter Megan (Alexis Fitting) to cure her of brain cancer. She dies anyway. In another hallucination, or alternate timeline, he meets the ghosts of his parents (Maynard and Rose Mahler). Endowed with near god-like powers Aaron allows the hotels on the Strip to be evacuated before he razes the den of sin and secularism to the ground. He does this in audience of the Director of the FBI (Alan Rogers), the Director of Homeland Security (Huel Washington), the Director of the CIA (Bill Frid) and a senator (Marry Taylor). It dawns upon him that all his various lived (and re-lived) timelines share a common element: Nevada. Having exorcised his demons Aaron at long last finds peace within himself. As a result the time loop is closed and Brand is returned to his own time. Now that he’s been imbued with godly powers Aaron resurrects his wife and destroys his laptops and equipment now that her construct is no longer needed. Happily reunited with the love of his life the two walk off hand in hand into the horizon. Corruption has been ended, the guilty have been punished, and Brand has been reunited with his lost Lenore. Everything is right with the world again…

Either that, or it’s about a paranoid delusional hallucinating from mercury poisoning and driving aimlessly around the Nevada desert. At this point it could be both.

Double Down spends around two-minutes on a stock footage credit montage in which exactly three credits appear: the title card, and two production lines. It then launches into a six-minute monologue that heralds a wave of near-constant stream of consciousness narration that lays out all the backstory and exposition. Not even Coleman Francis had the cojones to do that in The Beast Of Yucca Flats (1961). After the credits and opening monologue it takes well over an additional ten minutes before Breen can be seen interacting with another character. Better brace yourself to hear and see Breen constantly narrating himself. Three-quarters of Double Down consists almost exclusively Breen walking and driving around the Las Vegas strip and Nevada desert accompanied by near-constant monotone narration. In a more charitable mood the randomly shoehorned in scenes with the blackouts and clinical depression could be called subtext, except that there’s no main text. Breen obviously cares about mental health and psychological well-being. He’s concerned about the way American society sees/treats the mentally ill. It’s also entirely within the realm of possibility that Neil Breen has had a relationship with one particular woman turn sour, and that he continues to long and pine for said woman. The way Breen agonizingly screams “where are you?!” is probably too melodramatic and maybe a tad too earnest in its sincerity.

It’s fascinating to see one man fumble his way through his own movie so gloriously. The Room (2003) had the good fortune of looking like a particularly deranged Friends (1994-2004) episode, Double Down for most of the time barely qualifies as a movie. That it features but two locations (the desert and the Strip) doesn’t help either. Instead of the Las Vegas of glamour and excess that the late Andy Sidaris captured so well (on similar non-existent budgets) the Las Vegas scenes with Breen are rather flat and sort of mundane in an everyday sense. Laura Hale was the first to be cast as a love interest and despite being a linchpin in the main plot her character is abstract, to say the least. Hale has a scant few lines before disappearing and hasn’t been seen again in the Breeniverse since. It’s a question where Neil keeps finding all these young actresses to appear in his productions. As with anything from Breen it ranges from mildly strange to utterly bizarre and Double Down lives up to its name that it indeed doubles down on the insanity that it promises. Fateful Findings (2013) had better production values, but this is madness unchecked. Perhaps Neil Breen imagines himself as some kind of visionary director who makes important movies. The world may never know.