You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


A likely cult hit among horror fans and a gleeful affront to more delicate sensibilities.

With: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes, Vincent Grashaw.

A likely cult hit among horror fans and a gleeful affront to more delicate sensibilities, “Bellflower” takes the young-adult romantic-comedy blueprint and subjects it to a kind of devilish origami, creating a disturbed and disturbing parable about young male fantasies, fears and avoidance of adulthood. Theatrical possibilities are limited, given the pointed violence and lack of narrative orthodoxy, but a solid, bloody afterlife seems to be a no-brainer.

Helmer Evan Glodell, who also plays the progressively unhinged lead character, Woodrow, opens his film with what seems like a trailer: A series of quick glimpses of some unexplained violent incident briefly throws the viewer a curve. Pic then shifts gears to the story proper, but the essential technique of disconnection — between characters, actions and imagery — continues throughout “Bellflower” and makes for a fractured mosaic of impulses and perceptions.

Even though d.p. Joel Hodge’s lighting imposes an air of menace from the start, Woodrow and best friend Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are presented, initially, as your basic knuckleheads: guys with no visible means of support, who drink too much and think mostly about sex. Their minds are also occupied with unusual and combustible projects, such as firing a shotgun at a flaming propane tank dangling from a wire 10 feet from the ground, building a flamethrower out of vacuum parts and a pressurized tank of gasoline, and dreaming up a fire-spewing muscle car that they can drive around after the apocalypse.

Any Freudian connection between their frustrated sexuality and their pyromania seems well founded, although Woodrow soon finds a cure in Milly (Jessie Wiseman), a nubile blonde who beats him at a barroom contest of cricket-eating and then runs off with him to Texas for some bad food and budding romance.

“Bellflower,” named for the Southern California street (the film was shot in Oxnard and Ventura), is set within a fractious community of cheap housing and fringe-dwellers. Pic mirrors the extremes of the young male psyche (perhaps the old one, too): In the first stages of young love, Woodrow’s life is sweet. But Milly has a roommate, Mike (Vincent Grashaw) with whom things seem platonic, until Woodrow catches them in bed and the film takes a turn. To describe that turn as downward is a gross understatement.

Glodell takes time getting where he’s going, but the performers are all good, notably the promising Rebekah Brandes as Courtney, sort of a nymphet with a .45 who vacillates between Aiden and Woodrow. Wiseman is also strong, adding oomph to the relationship between Woodrow and Milly, which is highly charged and wildly out of control, even though one is never quite sure whether the mayhem is in Woodrow’s mind or not. At any rate, “Bellflower’s” more meaningful romance is between Woodrow and Aiden — the movie’s Huck and Jim, its Butch and Sundance — who represent the one familiar trope in an otherwise unpredictable film.

Tech credits are low-budget but artful, notably Hodge’s lensing.

Popular on Variety


Production: A Coatwolf Prods. presentation. (International sales: CAA, Los Angeles). Produced by Vincent Grashaw, Evan Glodell. Executive producers, Brian Thomas Evans, Josh Kelling. Co-producers, Paul Edwardson, Lenny Powell, Joel Hodge, Chelsea St. John, Jonathan Keevil, Jet Kauffman. Directed, written by Evan Glodell.

Crew: Camera (color), Joel Hodge; editors, Glodell, Hodge, Jonathan Keevil, Vincent Grashaw; music, Keevil; music supervisor, Andrea von Foerster; production designer, Team Coatwolf; sound, Scott Casilas, Richard Kitting, Jason Gaya; sound designer, Steven Iba; sound effects editors, Chris Terhune, Joshua Adeniji; associate producers, Byron Yee, Ari Presler, Luis Flores Jr., Efraim Wyeth; assistant director, Lenny Powell. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Next), Jan. 21, 2011. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes, Vincent Grashaw.

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content