Phil Stevens is a mad man.
No two ways about it anymore. He’s one part Charlie Chaplin, presenting a silent demeanor that is accessible to people of any language (given they want to sit through the horror show) and one part Eric Stanze (in his keen attempt to bring true artistic merit to extreme cinema).
It’s a beautiful combination, and it’s showcased ever so gallantly in Stevens follow up to 2015’s Flowers, Lung II.
Now, I actually watched the film about a week and a half ago, but in accordance with the films thematic structure, utilizing a man who cannot remember, I wanted to give the film a bit of time to simmer within my own memory.
The good news is even after a full week and a half, with plenty of other new watches in between, Lung II is still fresh in my mind.
A ponderous nightmare scape through modern suburban America.
As I mentioned above Stevens reminds me something of Charlie Chaplin in his ability to convey narrative and character depth with essentially no dialogue.
The film does have some dialogue, but it’s manipulated and obscured through Stevens’ key sound design to the point of being purposefully indecipherable.
He just has such a handle on basic film techniques that even without a script, it’s never difficult to understand what he’s getting at here.
In an effort to not bog my reviews down with basic, google-able, plot summaries, I’ll simply say it’s about a man, who loses his memory, and may or may not have done something horrible.
It comes in a long line of horror themed films about memory loss. Some are terrific like Memento or Dark City and other’s are complete misfires like The Taking of Deborah Logan.
Thankfully Lung II sits healthily along the terrific films and further challenges thematic conventions by presenting us with a loss of language as well.
Of course, don’t think for a second that all this technical and narrative prowess diverts from the fact that this is one brutal film.
Utilizing heavily constructed visual effects to create some truly grotesque imagery, Stevens forgoes typical stab em up extremity in favor of a something more in line with Cronenberg’s body horror work. It’s a refreshing change of pace.
My only major qualm about the film is perhaps it didn’t stick with me as long, or hit me as hard as Flowers, which was going to be hard to top no matter what.
In a lot of ways though it’s probably best to see this as a companion piece (as it is a “sequel” of sorts), and where Flowers studied the feminine psyche through a line of dread but ultimate redemption, Lung II is the masculine equivalent although I think it’s much harsher on it’s subject.
Who by the way, is played by director. Something that in itself left me a lot to ponder.
Lung II is getting a beautiful 2 disc set from Unearthed films in January.
★★★½ Continuing to challenge extreme cinema conventions, Lung II is another grotesquely beautiful film from Phil Stevens.