Thursday, September 2, 2010
We've been huge fans of the incredibly talented Stacie Ponder (AKA the proprietor of the snark-a-licious blog Final Girl) since we started waaaay back in 2007. Her off-beat and quirky sense of humor is completely out of left field (which we love) and of course, she has the horror cred to boot. So being a long time follower, I immediately perked up when she posted of a new project. This accomplished blogger and writer was taking things one step further and actually making a feature length film?! Color me excited! But like all things that take a lot of work and elbow grease, it was a long and trying road. I know, because I've been following the progress of the film. From the very first post about it (check out the hilarious napkin contract between herself and actress Shannon Lark) to humbly asking her readers to help her realize her dream, to computers breaking down, to re-shoots and then FINALLY, onwards to completion. I never lost my interest in seeing the film and recently, I had the privilege to do so. She can now add talented filmmaker to her resume.
The film tells the story of a woman who arrives at the small town of Ludlow, CA. Ludlow is in the Mojave desert near the San Bernardino area of Cali. I'm from SoCal and have been to the area a couple of times. It's a desolate shithole. It's like an atomic bomb was blowns'd up years and years ago and the area has never recovered. It's a place where bodies are dumped frequently in the hopes that no one will ever find them. This bleak setting plays a part in the film, oftentimes, becoming reflective of the devolving mental state of our female lead.
She holes herself up in a dingy motel room with bottles of pills and vodka to keep her company. Its obvious from the get-go that she's running from something. We're kept guessing as to what for awhile as she ignores a couple of phone calls, takes another which doesn't really provide us with any clues, and binges with her chemical enhancements. So much so, that now and throughout the course of the film, she either passes out completely or fades in and out of consciousness. Each time, awaking to find out that what she thought had happened to her the night before (i.e. bleeding from her groin and receiving a severe beating from a man in her hotel room) never really took place.
We come to find out that we are waiting for her sister to come out and meet up with her. Further intimations suggest that she's running from an abusive relationship. In her boredom, and with constant calls from the man she's trying to get away from, she continues to resort to drinking and drugs. You get the sense that she can't deal with being on her own, not even in the midst of being able to get away from her main physical threat. Each time she binges, a violent act is imagined which either results in bodily injury or death. And just when she thought that her 'rescue' was coming, it proves to be another blurred sense of reality.
Leading all the way up to the shocking conclusion, we are kept on pins and needles as this sort of horrific version of Groundhog's Day plays out. I won't get into the actual ending but it was masterfully shot. It's at this point that we realize that our female lead has gone past the point of no return and her sense of reality is truly warped.
The two best things working for this film are pacing and Shannon Lark. The film is a slow build and it keeps you riveted as you try to figure out what's going on while simultaneously working to piece everything together. And the film is pretty much a one woman show, with Ms. Lark driving the story along with her performance as she conveys a true sense of terror during each of her 'experiences.'
I hope this is the beginning of great things to come on the filmmaking front for Stacie. She proves that not only does she have the cred, but also the chops. And the thing that I appreciate most about this film is the fact that nothing is ever spoonfed to us and we are left to piece it all together. Afterall, nothing is more terrifying than the horror that we make up in our head.
Cortez the Killer