Bellflower Movie Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Released by Oscilloscope Laboratories
Written & Directed by Evan Glodell
2011, 105 Minutes, Rated R
Released in theaters August 5th, 2011
Evan Glodell as Woodrow
Jessie Wiseman as Milly
Tyler Dawson as Aiden
Rebekah Brandes as Courtney
Vincent Grashaw as Mike
It's a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy and girl begin a horrific revenge game back and forth culminating in bloodshed on both sides. Friends look on in fear for everyone's lives. Same old, same old, right? Writer / Director / Star Evan Glodell takes a twist on that old song and dance with his debut film, Bellflower.
Glodell plays Woodrow, your stereotypical shy guy perpetually in the "Friend Zone." Think of a girl saying, "I love how we can just talk. You're like a brother to me," and that's who Woodrow is. Along with his quirky pal Aiden (Tyler Dawson), he has a fun little hobby of preparing for the end of the world. Instead of stocking the shelves in a fallout shelter, the pair are working on a bitchin' car that will make them the leaders of a gang called Mother Medusa, which will of course rule the post-apocalyptic landscape of the future. Aiden wants his buddy to break out of his shell a bit and pushes him to talk to Milly (Jessie Wiseman). The couple hit it off and quickly start dating.
For the first two thirds of the movie Bellflower is a romantic comedy that's light on the laughs. Woodrow and Milly get closer and closer with the former falling so quickly in love that he doesn't see that Milly isn't at the same level as he is. He of course drops the "L Word" pretty early on and their relationship is doomed from then on.
Unlike most romantic comedies, the quirky best friend doesn't get jealous of all the time that his buddy is spending with his new girlfriend. He actually encourages him and is a genuine nice guy. Aiden is always there for Woodrow, even when Woodrow is a total asshole.
You didn't click on this link to read about a love story, though. You wanted blood. Bellflower is filled with it, but you have to wait a long time to get to it. Glodell packed a whole movie's worth of violence into the last 20 minutes of the film. While this is a bit surprising and it certainly hits you like a punch to the gut, it feels somewhat forced to make such a drastic jump.
Bellflower seems to be a movie that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It's clear that it's a very personal story to Glodell, but not all of our stories are interesting enough to be made into movies. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but some are just boring. Woodrow and Milly's budding romance is one that's been seen in countless movies before and it's been done a lot better.
The character of Woodrow starts out as being an indifferent schlub and quickly turns into a total unlikable douchebag. It's hard to sympathize with a character who treats his friends like garbage. I understand that people get emotional and make rash decisions after a bad break up, but this was just uncomfortable.
Despite my feelings about the film, you have to give Glodell credit for the work that was put into Bellflower. First off, the guy built a camera to shoot it. The filming took over three months and the meager budget of $5,000 was used up a lot sooner than that. Glodell sold all of his belongings and lived in an abandoned office building in an effort to finance the film. Shots were made without permits. Vehicles were driven without registrations. I'm fairly certain they didn't have proper safety equipment on hand for many of the stunts included, but not limited to, shooting a propane tank, using a flamethrower and just turning on Mother Medusa. This kind of off-the-cuff filmmaking is rarely seen in Hollywood these days. If this is what Glodell can do with a few grand and a couple months, I'd be very interested to see what he can do with an actual budget and a bed to sleep in.
Bellflower is certainly not a film for everyone. It has a very grindhouse feel to it in some parts, but it lacks that violent edge for most of the story which put me into a bit of a daze. The tail end of the film was covered in blood, some of it not making much sense at all. For a motion picture debut, Glodell could do a lot worse. If he's given some more room and some more toys to play with, he'll really shine as a director.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.