Welcome to the first entry in our Extreme Cinema Series. We plan to cover the best and brightest in the underground horror scene. These films often deal with high levels of violence and gore, which can often be sexual in nature. These kinds of films tend to make Saw and Hostel look tame. Needless to say, not for the faint of heart
If you’re a gore-hound though please continue on.
With a sub-genre as slipshod as the underground, it’s fortunate we got to start this review series off with such a cogent and satisfying film.
Flowers comes from Phil Stevens, who wrote, directed and co-produced the film through his presumably owned P. Stevens Productions. It’s abstract, spiritual (literally), and has more in it’s head than simply grossing us out with some bloody effects.
The plot of Flowers involves six female spirits trapped inside the dilapidated house they were murdered in.
Each of the six women are given a block of time to themselves to crawl, squirm and climb their way through the metaphorical prison. For me they were desperately seeking tranquility.
The story is kept ambiguous (for the most part) and we are left to imagine our own scenarios about who these women were before they were murdered. Did they have families? Were they happy before they died? Does anyone even remember them?
You could read the film a number of ways.
Most people will think it’s about six wandering souls trapped in a house that takes on a personality of it’s own. Some might see it as a parable about the soul needing to find peace after death. Personally, I saw it as a metaphor for attempting to heal after surviving sexual abuse.
Funnily enough I never actually read a plot summary going into the film, but was still able to figure out the majority of what was going on.
Perhaps the most admirable thing about Flowers is that it takes all those people who think the genre is purely misogynistic and gives them a female driven extravaganza that puts a lot of horror films, mainstream or otherwise, to complete shame.
The mix of spirituality and feminist edge compliment the visual imagery Steven uses throughout. This to me is always the mark of a strong director.
Oh did I mention that the entire film is completely wordless?
Quite a gamble coming from a first time writer/director. To pull something like this off you need to have complete control of your craft and for the most part that’s the case here.
Where a lot of first time writer’s might try to bog us down with a lot of expository and useless dialogue, it’s refreshing to view someone willing to experiment.
And don’t think all the credit lies in Stevens hands, just most of it.
The other special shout out goes to the six tremendously gifted actresses.
They got sloppy, red, covered in waste, vomit, bones and who knows what else. Of course it’s all fake but the cinematography, also by Stevens, keeps things dark and the colors muted.
This gives everything a more realistic and unpalatable looking gore.
As I mentioned above the story uses no dialogue. We are have to create our own answers and interpretations of what’s happening before our eyes.
Through Steven’s precise camera work, we are able to see just enough of the corridor’s confining spaces to feel in the mind of each character.
It’s also impossible to talk about the film without speaking of its immaculate use of sound. It reminds me of something like Suspiria. Less in that they use the same techniques but more that they use these techniques to make explicit points and accentuations. At times the score is so subtle you don’t even realize that it’s there, yet…
You feel it.
It would have been easy for Phil Stevens to phone in a typical, serial killer blood bath full of female nudity and the gore we so crave.
He is shooting for something bigger, better and all around more satisfying. This is probably the best extreme-violence film I’ve watched since Scott Schirmer rocked the genre with, Found.
Most extereme films just want to make you sick, but Flowers wants to make you think. I can’t wait for Steven’s follow up film, Lung II
★★★½ Experimental, subversive, gory and thoughtful. Flowers is a winner.