We don't know about you guys, but whether it's zombies or nukes or little green men, we're pretty darn certain that the apocalypse is coming one day, and when it does, we know exactly what we're gonna do. So when we first heard about 'Bellflower' a few months back and that it revolved around two guys who not only know what they're gonna do but are so freaking prepared that they're practically counting down the minutes until the doomsday clock strikes 12, we didn't even have to see the flaming Buick to realize that this was a movie after our own hearts.
Now that it's finally hit theaters in New York and LA, go ahead and check out our full rundown on whether this bad boy was dead on arrival or made Lord Humungus proud.
What's it about?
'Bellflower' is about two best friends who are obsessed with 'The Road Warrior,' spend their days building a custom flamethrower, and looking high and low for the perfect muscle car to turn into a fire-breathing tank of destruction in preparation for when the end of days finally comes. Their post-apocalyptic gang will be called "Mother Medusa," and they will be fully prepared. Then one day they go out drinking and one of the guys meets a girl who he quickly falls head-over-heels for. The more time he spends with the girl, the less time he spends making "Mother Medusa" a reality, but then his world gets tossed on its head and he plummets into a downward spiral of anger, revenge, and setting things on fire.
So it's like 'Mad Max' mixed with 'Blue Valentine?'
Yeah, that's about right, and unless we're sadly mistaken, we've never heard of a movie with a hook like that before. Even after having seen the trailer, it's a tough movie to sell and a tough movie to describe since these are two genres don't usually go together and they're not exactly catered to a specific demographic. Guys tend to like destruction, ladies tend to like romance, but it takes a special kind of couple to like both equally. By the same token, this isn't much of a date movie.
As a tainted love story, it works surprisingly well and actually ends up being more important to the story as a whole than the apocalypse prepping does. Writer/director/star Evan Glodell said that he wrote this script after a badly broken heart, and if there has ever been a reason not to toy with someone's emotions, this is it. As far as love stories in movies go, we're far more used to seeing guys go from flawed bachelors to perfect boyfriends, so the fact Glodell's character Woodrow goes down a path that's closer to Travis Bickle's than Lloyd Dobler's is a fresh breath of toxic air that really makes the movie more than anything else.
Folks, this thing gets dark, it gets borderline evil, and because we get so connected to the characters from very early on, the road that takes us to those depths is as honest as it is vulnerable and the hurt that comes after feels as devastating as it absolutely should. No, it's not the cheeriest thing we've seen all year, but it's genuine, it's entirely relatable from an emotional standpoint, and it's just a really well-written script that as fresh and entertaining as it is personal and crushing.
And as a pre-apocalypse movie, it works and then some. Even though it takes place in present-day LA, it looks like a wasteland, it looks like a sunburnt relic that someone stumbled across in the desert before they dusted it off and threw it in the microwave. After all, Glodell filmed this movie with a camera he invented from old parts of other cameras, and it sure works wonders in creating a visual style that's brand spankin' new and perfect for the tone of the story it's showing. Blowing stuff up has never looked this slick and dirty, and there is a lot of fun stuff to blow up.
Match all that to a killer soundtrack that complements the visuals to a tee and gets right under your skin with beats that'll drown you in rage, and you've got yourself a downright drug of a moviegoing experience.
Is that car as awesome as it looks?
You don't know the half of it. The "Mother Medusa" car is just the icing on the cake against everything else that elevates this movie to a level of cool that most movies can't even touch.
It's the visuals, it's the score, it's the homemade flamethrower, it's Evan Glodell's outrageously badass facial hair, it's the glowing homage to 'Mad Max,' it's the existence of a second car called "Speed Biscuit" that has a built-in whiskey dispenser on the dash, it's a lot of things. There isn't a whole lot of action in this movie, so don't expect Woodrow to start chasing down oil tankers or anything, but there is no denying how boss this movie is and how it successfully continues to one-up itself in this regard from one scene to the next.
How's the cast?
When we interviewed him this week, Glodell told us that his biggest reservation about 'Bellflower' as a whole was how people would react to his performance since he's playing the main character and he hates acting. The funny thing about it his hesitations as a leading man is that they actually end up being the thing that makes him so good. He doesn't come across like he's acting, he's just doing what comes natural, and his smiley, giggly, naturally endearing nature not only makes us care about Woodrow right off the bat, but makes his gradually descent into someone completely opposite that much more affecting. This is his story, and from the good times to the bad, he's playing himself as much as he's playing a persona. One of the best characters we've seen all year.
Tyler Dawson is great as his crazy best friend Aiden (great name), and our hat's off to Jessie Wiseman for going all out and delivering a solid performance to boot as Woodrow's main squeeze Milly, but when push comes to shove, Glodell's the one running this show both in front of the camera and behind. Good cast all around though, hopefully this helps put them on the map.
Is it worth seeing?
You ever see a movie that you feel like was made just for you? That's how we feel about 'Bellflower.' The plot gets a tad cliche at one point and it does get a bit too crazy towards the end, but these are minor complaints that were easy to overlook in light of everything about this movie that had us floating in a sea of brutal awesomeness. If you've ever had your heart stepped on, if you're of the understanding that 'The Road Warrior' may very well be one of the greatest movies ever made, or even if you just want to see a movie that's unlike anything you've ever laid eyes on before, clear your calendar and book it to New York or LA to check out one of the best movies we've seen all year. Debut efforts don't get much better.
9/10 Lovesick Reckonings