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BELLFLOWER

 

"Bellflower" is the film version of the hardcore metalcore ballad that writer/director Evan Glodell would have written if he were more a musician than filmmaker. Clearly harboring angst towards someone who decimated his personal world, this movie is an intense reflection of the feelings that we encounter after returning from the wreckage of a rough break-up crippling sadness, and pure... fucking... rage.

 

Glodell's raw expressions of these feelings, which would sound like the blistering Every Time I Die in a musical dimension, makes for a certainly unique revenge tale.

 

Woodrow and Aiden (Evan Glodell and Tyler Dawson) are two California buddies living in their own worlds of boyish fascinations with fast cars and pyrotechnics. They're constantly working on their homemade flamethrower, while dreaming about their imaginary hero, Lord Humongous a super human being who would dominate the apocalypse they often dream about.

Things truly become apocalyptic, however, when Woodrow falls for a unique individual named Minnie (played by Jessie Wiseman). After meeting at a cricket-eating contest, the two become very involved with one another. This changes, however, when Woodrow discovers that Minnie has been cheating on him with her former roommate Mike.

 

From this point on, "Bellflower" hurdles into a chaotic storyline, of uncertain fantasy and/or reality. Things are burned; people are killed. And a super muscle car, Medusa, is born.

 

At the center of "Bellflower" is Glodell's Woodrow, a young man who has more boyish qualities than just his constant giggling. He has certain innocence to him, as he is without unlikable characteristics and is a grimy romantic, through and through. Glodell then carries this character through his whirlwind of events, while covering a complete palette of nearly insane moments. He can be boyish and a monster, equally.

 

The sidekick to Woodrow, Aiden is the brains of their operations, but also one who shares the same, essentially teenage, appreciation for pyrotechnics and cool cars. Compared to Woodrow, Dawson's Aiden is notably less intriguing, especially with his tendency to say the word "dude" at least twice in every sentence, and contribute to the movie's sometimes poor dialogue.

At times the dialogue can be laughably bad, as its heavy reliance on improv (or so it seems) only shows how limited the actors' imaginations can be during certain exchanges. Dude, if you thought "Dude Where's My Car?" had some sweet dialogue, you'll love what they say in "Bellflower," dude.

 

Playing against the film's visual angst, the "Bellflower" soundtrack utilizes songs by a mumbling Jonathan Keevil that sound like they were recorded with a simple handheld recorder. Keevil's raw tunes add mellowness to moments that could be considered nothing by chaotic. It's certainly a more interesting choice than fueling such moments with the expected crashing noise of murderous guitars.

 

"Bellflower" has a special heart for its technical sense, in more ways than one. Heightening a certain spirit to its indie pride, the "Medusa" car, as seen in the movie, with its fuel-injected exhaust flamethrowers and three surveillance cameras, is a fully functioning, real piece of equipment.

 

The same can be said for the real flamethrower, constructed during the movie from spare parts. Even the camera used to capture "Bellflower's" true DIY aspect was made by Glodell and his "Coatwolf" (his company) cronies.

Unfortunately, such engineering is used for some unnecessary pretension, as the cinematography uses blown-out lighting far too often, and even adds in fake scratches on the lens. The lens marks might look real, but it's the fake washed out Abercrombie & Fitch shirt to the movie's genuine vintage tee, grimy style.

 

The escalating chaos of "Bellflower" ensures its energy, whether the events that happen seem whiny and overdramatic more than darkly poetic. Due to whatever person that hurt writer/director Glodell in the past, this movie completely rages in certain aspects with explosive interactions, a lot of physical fights, and the general wish for the end of the world. Whether one can really connect to such a movie, it still loads its tale with so much pure anger that it's hard to look away from.

 

If Glodell's feelings seem possibly accurate to the death of love, then you'll be moshing and screaming right along with his personal "Bellflower."

 

"Bellflower" is a supped-up, homemade, technical indie spectacle with pretentious tendencies; a sort of coming-of-rage tale that romanticizes the apocalypse by likening the end of the world to a lover crushing your heart.   -- NICK ALLEN, is also a film critic for The Scorecard Review and member of Chicago Film Critics Association

 

NICK ALLEN

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