03 March, 2012

Macon: "Johnny's Gone" (***1/2)

Johnny Sinclair and LaDon Drummond star in "Johnny's Gone"

The first feature I saw at the Macon Film Festival was Giorgio Serafini's "Johnny's Gone." Serafini co-wrote the film with his wife and frequent collaborator, LaDon Drummond, who also stars as Sarah. It is obvious from the start that Serafini isn't an amateur. While he might not be a recognized name, he has had some time to polish his skills as a filmmaker. Making the absolute most out of a shoe-string budget, "Johnny's Gone" is full of surprising twists, beautiful photography and a perfectly tuned soundtrack.

The film suffers a bit from some drastic tone variances. Starting off as a chilling thriller, the second act quickly morphs the film into a travelogue following the cross-country adventures of Sarah, little Johnny and Alex, a beautiful hitchhiker played by Natasha Green. While we certainly have more fun during the travelogue, we can't help but wonder where all the tension went. It briefly comes back at the end, stronger than ever. As I see it, the only true misstep is the inclusion of ultra slow-motion shots. While there are only a handful of them, they look a bit silly and take away from the otherwise striking and colorful cinematography.

"Johnny's Gone" is the type of film that one must see in entirety before being able to examine it correctly. The best example of this would be the interaction between Sarah and Johnny. Their relationship has an awkward feel to it, even though Johnny is played by the son of Serafini and Drummond. While this seems like a detractor for most of the film, ultimately, it is more of a testament to Drummond's fantastic performance. She is convincingly loving, but unnatural, when sharing the screen with her adorable real-life son; an impressive feat. Without spoiling the film, the reasons behind these nuances are explained.

The experience of watching "Johnny's Gone" isn't as rewarding as thinking about it afterwards, but this is certainly not a negative remark. Serafini and Drummond have put together a careful and thought provoking film that marked a great start to the Macon Film Festival for me.

3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful and honest review. This was such a personal and heartfelt project for us that it is always a wonderful surprise when people can appreciate it with objectivity. The film was inspired by my daughter Laura who passed at age 13. She is present in the movie through video footage. We mixed our own experience, our own pain, with a story that is partially invented (we obviously didn't commit the acts that Sarah does in the film).
    I am thrilled that LaDon talent is noticed through this labor of love.
    Giorgio Serafini

  2. It is great to hear from you, Giorgio. You and LaDon's efforts and love show beautifully on screen.

  3. Love and drama at their best.