Dream Deceivers: The Story of James Vance vs. Judas Priest | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dream Deceivers: The Story of James Vance vs. Judas Priest 

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This slash-and-burn documentary is a Sunbelt grotesque: it's the unrelievedly saddening story of James Vance, a teen in Reno, Nevada, who shot himself in the face with a shotgun shortly after his best friend did the same. Vance's fundamentalist family later argued in court that his attempted suicide (his friend's was successful) was inspired by subliminal messages in the music of British heavy-metal band Judas Priest. Director David Van Taylor pulls off a neat hat trick, gaining the confidence of Vance and his family, the rock band, and a trio of local losers to create, scene by scene, a despairing mosaic of alcoholism, drug use, and violence--and that's just Vance's God-fearing parents. Defenders of heavy metal know that blaming the music for antisocial behavior is blaming a symptom on a symptom, and Van Taylor makes that case thoroughly but not preachily. He also well limns what seems to be a curious dispassion on the part of the Priesters, and gives a whole lot of screen time to doomed young Vance, reminding us that things like rock music, the legal system, and even God himself don't mean much to a 19-year-old without a face. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, July 18, 6:00 and 8:00, and Sunday, July 19, 6:00, 443-3737)

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