When flipping through Netflix, rarely do I find something that jumps out at me like the title and poster art for Manson Family Vacation. I am not sure how this film wasn’t on my radar, but I am glad that I watched it right away and didn’t leave it in my que for 2 years (like most netflix titles do, in my case). Its very much a part of the new wave of american indies that relies on realism and acting to tell a story. This will probably get written off as another “mumblecore” film project, but at its core it is a great example of how introspective and unpretentious american indies are becoming.
The story is about two brothers, Nick and Conrad (played by Jay Duplass and Linas Phillips, respectively), who are spending a weekend bonding. Conrad is the free spirited (adopted) brother of the straight-arrow Nick and the two embark on an adventure through all of the famous murder sights of Charles Manson.
It plays out as an anti-roadtrip movie, where the brothers never truly understand each other or bond during a sing along. Instead we see two young men coping with adulthood, fatherhood and death. It sounds much heavier than it is. For every heart warming scene, we get death and fart jokes to compliment its tone. The only gripe that I have for this movie is its scope. While dealing with a ton of themes, it can get a little muddled and unfocused, but this is the debut from director J. Davis. If you enjoy small, quiet dramas about murder, midlife crisis and weed, then please give this movie a shot. Manson Family Vacation is currently available on Netflix streaming and VOD platforms.