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Desert Mirage (2016)

2:57 | Trailer
An unstable, aspiring cartoonist tries to reconnect with his brother and deal with his abusive father while at the mercy of his own creations.


Michael Fredianelli, Jeremy Koerner (screenplay)





Credited cast:
Jeremy Koerner ... Cliff, Ryley, Teagan, Leopold, Sammy
Michael Fredianelli ... Jack / Ginger Joe / Rhode Island Red
Tabbitha McBride Tabbitha McBride ... Rebecca
Melinda Torgersen Melinda Torgersen ... Angelina
John S. Boles ... Doug
Sheilah Morrison Sheilah Morrison ... Sandy
George S. Gemette George S. Gemette ... Bill
Morgan Finley King ... Hank
Tyler Torgersen Tyler Torgersen ... Boardwalk Teen
Landon Torgersen Landon Torgersen ... Max
Brandon Peterson Brandon Peterson ... Mystery Man
Mason Torgersen Mason Torgersen ... Boardwalk Preteen
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lava Gnome Lava Gnome
Chad Kaplan Chad Kaplan ... Himself - boardwalk victim
David Lambert David Lambert ... Himself - boardwalk victim


Aspiring cartoonist and middle-aged gumbuster Cliff Morelli (Jeremy Koerner, Black Cat Whiskey, New York Lately) spends his days at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk performing minimum wage janitorial duties. When he is put on suspension after harassing a teenager and his parents threaten to throw him out of the house, Cliff decides to actively pursue his lifelong animation dreams by reconnecting with his rich brother Jack. After a failed attempt and a string of bad luck, Cliff finds himself at the mercy of the animated characters he has created, and together, they form a devilish plan to exact revenge on all those that have wronged him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

25 December 2016 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

San Jose, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wild Dogs Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Animation production lasted three years. See more »


References A Clockwork Orange (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

Low-aiming (though often hilarious) film may struggle to find an audience.
9 June 2017 | by AylmerSee all my reviews

Having seen the film 1 and 1/2 times, I'm still not totally sure why it's called DESERT MIRAGE beyond some vague allusion made near the end. To me, it doesn't feel like the most appropriate title as it sounds redundant and serious while this bizarre film is anything but.

Filled with in-jokes and call-backs to other Fredianelli-helmed low budget films (especially the very similar THE BIG SLEAZE), the film follows an unlikable loser (played by Jeremy Koerner) as he struggles to get his life together while accompanied by a group of animated sidekicks. These sidekicks, including a raccoon, a goldfish, and a turtle, often bicker with each other over which direction Koerner should take his life, never missing and opportunity to cut him down and degrade his self esteem (as well as everyone else he knows in the real, non-animated world). Eventually things get quite dreary and violent as we follow the downward spiral of him struggling as an animator in a manner similar to the TAXI DRIVER.

This extremely foul-mouthed and violent movie certainly won't be for everyone (especially children and squeamish people) instead aiming for a Ralph Bakshi-ish style of deliberately finding as many ways to offend the audience as possible. At times I have to admit I was mightily amused, especially during the gonzo opening of the film though mostly during the more serious and quiet scenes later between the Koerner and his estranged brother (played by director Fredianelli himself in what may be his best performance yet). However on the whole I found things to be a little too brisk and inane, much in the same way SPACE JAM distilled a lot of classic characters into braindead and attention deficient shadows of themselves.

DESERT MIRAGE boasts a lot of surprisingly wonderful animation by a team of many skilled animators headed up by Chad Kaplan in a true tour de farce. The extremely low budget shines through quite a bit though with things never really maintaining a consistent look, and many of the scenes where the animated characters interact with the real world (especially any shots with moving camera) are missing a critical bit of polish. Sure it's meant to be rough around the edges, but a few goof-ups and animation short-falls (like having the raccoon's non-expressive face fill the screen so long during the scene where he tries to entice Koerner to hit on his neighbor) just took me out of the movie. Amazingly Koerner holds everything together as there's nothing sloppy at all about his masterful performance in which he invests everything he has into creating a believable, albeit disturbing, lead character.

Overall if you're one of the few in the mood to chuckle at some grotesque mean-spirited humor and take in some sporadically great bang-for-the-buck animation, give this decidedly underground film a chance.

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