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The Debt of Maximilian

USA 2019
produced by
Saxon Moen, Etsuko Moen (executive) for Saxon Films
directed by Saxon Moen
starring Travis Lee Eller, Mark Valeriano, Angelica Tate, Kate Prendergast, Wali Habib, Canyon Heston, Marie Pilkington, Mikiko Flynn, James Elden, Juan Pablo Castañeda, Maddison Bullock, Jonathan Maniraho, Kyle Kurushima, Jaeme Velez, Noah Franc (as Francisco Madril), Jeff Sully, Matthew Muzio, Robin S. Roth (voice)
story by Saxon Moen, Adrian Moen, screenplay by Saxon Moen

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Max (Travis Lee Eller) has a good job, a nice house, loving wife (Kate Prendergast) and adorable daugther (Mikiko Flynn), so you might think everything's great on his end - but he has a tiny problem, and that's betting on football. And what makes this problem more than a trifle is that he's just not very good at it and is constantly losing money. In fact he's so deeply in debt that he's about to lose his house, and he owes his bookie Charlie (Wali Habib) quite a bit of money, too. So he tries to borrow money from everywhere he can, but once he's evened the score with Charlie, he goes right and places another bet instead of paying off the mortgage on his house - and that's despite even Charlie telling him to get a grip on his life.

The only one who really sticks with Max is his younger brother Kyle (Mark Valeriano), but Kyle has got problems of his own, among them his girlfriend Nena (Angelica Tate), a recovering heroin addict. Another being that he's doing drug deliveries for the mob, but has the habit of embezzling some of the money he gets for a better future for him and Nena somewhere else. But now it seems the mob has grown wise on him, and in his desparation, he pretty much forces all the money, a small fortune, on Max - who of course can't withstand the temptation and places a pretty big bet with Charlie ... and wouldn't you know it, he wins for a change. Thing is, since he placed the bet, Charlie has "disappeared", and the thugs who have been taking over are not people to take over his debts as well and pay out Max. By now though, Kyle really has to skip town and relies on Max returning the money - which means Max, if he doesn't want to see his brother killed, has to get what's "rightfully his", even if at gunpoint ... and since when was that ever a good idea?


A very fine film that finds just the right balance between social drama, character study and crime flick, and that works quite as well because it doesn't try to drive its message home but trusts for the audience to read between the lines while really working first and foremost on delivering a good, well-structured and expertly paced story that sees hardly a dull moment. And thanks to a down-to-earth directorial effort and convincing performances, the whole thing also remains relatable throughout, to ultimately grant the viewer good entertainment that's also food for thought.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD