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Homemade flamethrowers and amped up muscle cars are generally not things you'd find in low budget indie films from first time directors, but Bellflower packs these surprises and much more. The brain child and labor of love of writer/director/producer/editor/star/everything Evan Glodell, he and his devoted crew funded the film basically out of pocket while living in an abandoned office space. With an abundance of passion and a little luck, what came out on the tail end of the three year project is a Mad Maxian mumblecore film that reaches into the catacombs of a broken heart to experience what an all out meltdown feels like with raw emotion and plentiful machismo.
Best friends Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) grew up loving The Road Warrior, and early on decided they would build themselves a flamethrower and a battle ready vehicle for the inevitable apocalypse. Between all the bar hopping, house parties, and Road Warrior worship, the duo set their eyes on another pair of besties. For a first date, Woodrow took Milly (Jessie Wiseman) on a road trip filled with whiskey and obvious red flags, but several months and some poorly grown facial hair later, things come to a rather surprising breaking point. What follows is a whirlwind of bad decisions and one bad ass, flame throwing car that would scare the pants off of anyone it threatened to mow down.
The first half of the film feels like the early work of the mumblecore pioneering Duplass brothers, but shortly after the midway point the awkward relationships and constant social intoxication that cradle the film early on are left in the burned rubber smelling dust that is MEDUSA. What's strange is that the development of the characters and their relationships feels much less authentic than the over-extension of reality that comes to a head deep into the film. Despite the highly saturated colors and extreme contrast, the more surreal the film gets, the more real it all feels. Glodell and crew have created a true indie film that goes above and beyond low budget expectations to not only fill the screen with massive fireballs and tire smoke, but built a feature that uses intimacy and imagination to live out a seething breakup on a wildly raucous downward spiral.
Oscilloscope comes through with another stellar release with this Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. You can tell by looking at the image at pretty much any point during the film that it was a low budget production. There is dirt, grime, and the occasional smear on the lens, but it all gives the film charm. These artifacts are by no means the fault of the transfer, which looks quite stellar most of the time. It's often hard to judge thanks to a hefty amount of the post effects in place, but it is obvious that crisp detail and clarity are presented throughout. The soundtrack, which is quite fitting I might add, pumps through a DTS-HD 5.1 master track that sports some deep rumbles and efficient vocal projection. When it's running, the Medusa car sounds downright evil, literally rattling the floor. Packed on the disc is a behind-the-scenes featurette that contains some telling info on the origins of the film, as well as a series of outtakes from the set. Anyone who is into cars will find the “Medusa Rundown” particularly interesting, as Glodell gives a breakdown of all the work he put into the car for the film and the tour that came with promoting the film. There is also a theatrical trailer included. The discs come packed in Oscilloscope's signature recycled cardboard gatefold packaging with an attractive sleeve to hold it all together.
Films like this don't come along very often. Truly a labor of love, Bellflower goes from 0 to holy shit in a few quick moments. It's both emotionally and visually explosive, a rare feat for a first time director with no professional outside help. If you've ever found yourself in relationship meltdown, you can relate to Glodell's tale of vengeful love and supportive friendship, and if not, you're sure to be entertained by it none the less.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: November 15, 2011