December 4, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 34°F


Low-budget thriller explores male ego

Writer, director and actor Evan Glodell fuses a classic love story with the testosterone of “Fight Club” in the low-budget romantic thriller “Bellflower.” The genre-bending combination makes for an exhilarating film that explores the darker side of love.

Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson), best friends living in California, spend their free time rebuilding flamethrowers and muscle cars to fuel their obsession with the “Mad Max” film series. Their desire to recreate the car from the  second film of the post-apocalyptic 1981 action series “The Road Warrior” anchors their friendship.

When Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman), a free-spirited woman who he falls in love with, the film morphs into an idealistic character study laced with disturbing undertones. The relationship between Milly and Woodrow begins to affect their friendships with the people around them, and Woodrow transforms from weapon-building adrenaline-junkie into paranoid boyfriend.

The film shows a more tender side when the couple goes on its first date. There Milly warns Woodrow that her inability to commit might hurt him in the future, but a reluctant Woodrow assures her he’s tough. As the relationship begins to crumble, Woodrow reverts from the loveable nerd he became dating Milly back into a flame-throwing recluse. His slow transition from self-pity to angered heartbreak is what makes “Bellflower” an in-depth look into the nihilistic minds of some men.

Glodell shot the psychodrama with an effective director’s eye, saturating the screen with bright yellows and warm oranges that intensify as the movie moves toward its shocking psychological climax. Glodell and his production team combined traditional camera parts to build the digital camera for the film, helping  achieve its golden-edged look. The result is a emotionally powerful tribute to independent cinema.

But “Bellflower” isn’t without its flaws. Those who can’t stomach the violence may be turned off. Glodell’s ragged editing style races, jumps and cuts so fast it could cause whiplash. But the beginning, which shows brief shots of what’s to come in the bloody finalé, the storyline and cinematic nuances invite the audience into the director’s captivating and visceral world.

During its final act, “Bellflower” transitions from an edgy love story to a study of the darker minds of its characters. This change takes an unsettling turn that borders on the preposterous as the movie enters into sequences that blur the line between reality and mental fiction.

With all the massive blockbusters that occupied movie theaters thissummer, “Bellflower” is a welcome relief. The film’s $17,000 budget is considered less than chump change by Hollywood’s standards. But with a constant, energetic pulse along with some high-powered machinery, the film never looks dull. Despite its ludicrous ending, “Bellflower” delivers an adrenaline rush of revenge and love within the world of its rebellious, complex characters.

“Bellflower” was written and directed by Evan Glodell.