Review: ‘Vulcanizadora,’ starring Joshua Burge and Joel Potrykus

June 15, 2024

by Carla Hay

Joshua Burge in “Vulcanizadora” (Photo courtesy of Dweck Productions/Factory 25 Productions/Sob Noisse Movies)


Directed by Joel Potrykus

Culture Representation: Taking place in Michigan, the dramatic film “Vulcanizadora” (a sequel to 2015’s “Buzzard”) features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two friends go on a camping trip in the woods and plan to commit a sinister act.

Culture Audience: “Vulcanizadora” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of filmmaker Joel Potrykus and provocative movies about the dark side of human nature.

“Vulcanizadora” is a mind-bending drama that sneaks up on viewers and goes to unpredictable places. This sequel to “Buzzard” requires patience during the meandering first third of “Vulcanizadora.” The rest of the film will keep viewers on edge.

Written and directed by Joel Potrykus, “Vulcanizadora” takes place in Michigan, and was filmed on location in the Michigan cities of Manistee and Grand Rapids. “Vulcanizadora” had its world premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival. Most of the film takes place in an isolated wooded area near a beach.

“Vulcanizadora” has a relatively small number of people in the cast. Two main characters getting the most screen time. Marty Jackitansky (played by Joshua Burge) is the protagonist from “Buzzard,” a movie about Marty committing crimes, such as financial fraud, by stealing and forging checks. The other main character in “Vulcanizadora” is Derek Skiba (played by Potrykus), who was a supporting character in Buzzard.”

“Buzzard” had its world premiere at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival and was released in 2015. In “Buzzard,” Derek was Marty’s co-worker at a company called First File Mortgage, where Marty was a temp worker who stole checks and committed other fraud. Fearing that he would get caught, Marty hid at Derek’s place, while Derek lied to their boss and said that Marty was sick and unable to go to work. The rest of “Buzzard” shows what happened to Marty.

Viewers of “Vulcanizadora” don’t need to see “Buzzard” to understand what happens in “Vulcanizadora.” However, seeing “Buzzard” before seeing “Vulcanizadora” will give viewers a better understanding of who Marty and Derek are and their background stories. For the first third of “Vulcanizadora,” the movie just looks like two male friends wandering around a wooded area during a camping trip.

Derek (who is late 40s) is the more talkative of the duo. His motormouth rambling becomes very irritating after a while. Marty (who is in his late 20s) is brooding and doesn’t seem like he enjoys spending time with Derek. Even though Derek is older than Marty, Derek seems more emotionally immature than Marty.

Derek is the type of person who pretends to know more than he really does. For example, Derek doesn’t know some basic camping skills, and Marty often has to show him how to do things correctly. Derek is a music fan who often plays music loudly or sings songs. Based on his musical taste, Derek likes hard rock from the 1990s. Snippets of Godsmack’s “Voodoo” and Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” can be heard in the movie.

Why are Derek and Marty camping in the woods? Things become interesting in the middle of the film, when more information is revealed. Derek has brought small explosive devices. He and Marty are seen testing one of these explosive devices. Marty and Derek eventually go to a beach area, where their intentions become evident.

Conversations throughout the film also reveal that Marty is still involved in criminal activity. He has an upcoming court date where he has to enter a plea to charges of arson and . He’s accused of burning down a tire store. During an argument between Marty and Derek, it’s mentioned that Derek paid $700 to bail Marty out of jail.

Derek has his own personal problems: He is angry about not being able to his son Jeremy (played by Solo Potrykus), who is about 5 or 6 years old. Derek complains to Marty that Derek’s ex-wife Lynn (played by Melissa Blanchard) has turned Jeremy against Derek. Derek also believes that Jeremy cares more about Lynn’s current husband, who buys gifts for Jeremy that Derek wouldn’t be able to afford. “Everybody just fucking ripped me off,” Derek says bitterly.

Nothing can really prepare viewers for where “Vulcanizadora” ends up going in the story. What starts out looking like a harmless camping trip turns out to be something very different. The acting performances in “Vulcanizadora” are adequate, although Burge stands out for how he depicts Marty’s complexity. Burge received a Tribeca Festival special jury mention for his “Vulcanizadora” performance. Where “Vulcanizadora” excels the most is in the writing and direction, which build layers of suspense until the movie’s final knockout scenes.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix