Buster’s Mal Heart (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 4, 2017 by  

I enjoy films that make me think. From French New Wave to Italian Neo-Realism, I’m often wanting to see more American films, especially modern ones, try to be different from contemporary films and make you think. Sarah Adina Smith’s “Buster’s Mal Heart” does just that. If you want something fresh, different and surreal, definitely give “Buster’s Mal Heart” a try!

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TITLE: Buster’s Mal Heart


DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment


RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017

Directed by Sarah Adina Smith

Written by Sarah Adina Smith

Produced by Jonako Donley, Travis Stevens

Executive Producer: Dan Cogan, Wendy Ettinger, Mynette Louie, Julie Parker Benello

Associate Producer: William Adashek, Kevin Cannon, Derek Nguyen

Line Producer: Omar Veytia

Cinematography by Shaheen Seth

Edited by Sarah Adina Smith

Casting by Samy Burch

Production Design by Alexis Rose

Art Direction: Tessla Hastings, Alexis Wade

Costume Design: Emily Batson


Rami Malek as Buster

DJ Qualls as The Last Free Man

Kate Lyn Shell as Marty

Sukha Belle Potter as Roxy

Toby Huss as Deputy Winston

Lin Shaye as Pualine

Mark Kelly as Oscar

Bruce Bundy as Ranger Meg

Teresa Yenque as Adelita

Jared Larson as Dale

In this bold thriller peppered with dark humor and interlocking mystery, an eccentric mountain man is on the run from the authorities, surviving the winter by breaking into empty vacation homes in a remote community. Regularly calling into radio talk shows where he has acquired the nickname “Buster” to rant about the impending Inversion at the turn of the millennium, he is haunted by visions of being lost at sea, and memories of his former life as a family man.

Buster (Rami Malek) was once Jonah, a hard-working husband and father whose job as the night-shift concierge at a hotel took its toll on his psyche and, consequently, his marriage to the sensitive Marty (Kate Lyn Sheil) until a chance encounter with a conspiracy-obsessed drifter (DJ Qualls) changed the course of their lives forever. As the solitary present-day Buster drifts from house to house, eluding the local sheriff at every turn, we gradually piece together the events that fractured his life and left him alone on top of a snowy mountain, or perhaps in a small rowboat in the middle of a vast ocean or both, in this visceral mind bender that will provoke discussion long after it turns your world upside-down.

Sarah Adina Smith is known for creating fascinating, original films such as “The Midnight Swim”, “Holidays”, “Goodbye World”.

And her latest film “Buster’s Mal Heart” is one of the most bizarre films, yet fascinating surreal films that I have watched all year.

Starring Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”, “Night at the Museum”, “Need for Speed”), DJ Qualls (“The New Guy”, “Road Trip”, “Hustle & Flow”), Kate Lyn Sheil (“Equals”, “You’re Next”, “Green”) and Sukha Belle Potter, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film begins with several dozens of authorities going after a man known as “Buster” (portrayed by Rami Malek) and exchanging gunfire. We start to see Buster calling in radio talk shows ranting about the impending inversion at the turn of the millennium and seeing that there are people who support Buster who is squatter, invades homes and defecates in their silverware.

Meanwhile, we see visions of the character with long hair lost out at sea and then we see his life as a family man.

“Buster” was once known as Jonah, a man who was a loving father, went to church, enduring a mother-in-law, co-workers and getting all stressed out.

Jonah works the night-shift as a concierge at the local hotel but working the job would eventually take a toll on him and affect his marriage to his wife Marty (portrayed by Kate Lyn Sheil).  He wants to be a family man and be there for his wife and daughter but he’s frustrated and stressed out and it’s taking a toll on his psyche.

One day, Jonah comes across a drifter (portrayed by DJ Qualls) who is a conspiracy-obsessed drifter known as “The Last Man Alive” and his life changes forever.  The more time Jonah spend with the drifter, he starts to get worse.

Through flashbacks, we realize how life had change for Jonah and what drove him to become “Buster”.  But are any of these versions of the individual real?  Imagination? Hallucinations? Mental illness?


“Buster’s Mal Heart” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). Featuring close-ups with very good detail, the film looks very good as a lot of the scenes were shot outdoors. I didn’t notice any major artifacts, banding or issues with picture quality during my viewing of the film.


“Buster’s Mal Heart” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Dialogue is crystal clear and aside from the rifle shots heard in the beginning, the surround channels are primarily ambiance, while the entire soundtrack is dialogue-driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH.


“Buster’s Mal Heart” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes– Featuring seven deleted scenes.
  • Teaser
  • Trailer


“The Zookeeper’s Wife” comes with a slipcover, Blu-ray and DVD plus an Ultraviolet HD Code.

You have to give Rami Malek credit, may it be his role in “Mr. Robot” or his performance in the Sarah Adina Smith film “Buster’s Mal Heart” or even the video game “Until Dawn”, he knows how to play characters that can be creepy, unusual or off-beat.

And while the character was made for a Spanish speaking character, there is no denying that if there was a person who can play these type of roles, Rami Malek was a good choice.  On the other hand, if one is upset that a Latino character was not chosen for the role, it’s a valid concern when the lack of diversity for main roles for people of color is brought up in Hollywood.

But I’m going to avoid that hot topic and discuss the film.  For those who aren’t into surreal films and need clear cut storylines, you will be disappointed with “Buster’s Mal Heart”.  But let’s assume that you are into surreal films and want something different and a little complex, where certain scenes are more symbolic and how it does with one’s state of mind, this is a film that cineaste who love analyzing films, will no doubt have a blast disecting “Buster’s Mal Heart”.

Rami Malek plays a character (Are they all the same?  I won’t spoil that for you), one being a mountain squatter known as Buster, the other is a man lost out in sea and the primary character is Jonah, an overworked family man who is losing it.

But the film tries to show how a person can go mad.  How one can be pushed to the edge?  Or something more deeper…symbolic… It’s primarily a film that presents itself to you, and its up to you to interpret it.  Watch it once and then watch a few times, and don’t be surprised if you discover something new or you find your observations of the film changing.

The Blu-ray looks great, while the lossless audio is primarily dialogue-driven.  There are a few special features included as well.

Overall, I enjoy films that make me think.  From French New Wave to Italian Neo-Realism, I’m often wanting to see more American films, especially modern ones, try to be different from contemporary films and make you think.  Sarah Adina Smith’s “Buster’s Mal Heart” does just that.

If you want something fresh, different and surreal, definitely give “Buster’s Mal Heart” a try!


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