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Felt (Movie Review)

Felt (Movie Review)
06.25.2015by: Jake Dee
6 10

PLOT: Amy is troubled, emotionally battered young girl in the hellish throes of post-traumatic angst. When she meets a boy she actually likes, a devastating truth is unearthed that sends Amy into a fit of violent outrage.

REVIEW: It's been three years since writer/director Jason Banker burst onto the scene with his directorial debut TOAD ROAD, and now he returns with his elegiac sophomore effort FELT - a movie that seems less like an out-and-out horror yarn and more of an intimate examination of a young woman's disturbed psycho-sexual unraveling. Which is fine. This is less so a terrifying sensory assault, as most horror flicks are, and more in line with a fluttery, meditative character study of a disaffected female youth. If it works, and for large stretches it does, it's because of the revelation of lead actress Amy Everson, who dominates every frame of the film with a raw vulnerability and sympathetic sense of alienation. Alas, a good-to-great performance doesn't equal a good-to-great film, and for a movie called FELT, I found the end result to be nowhere near as profoundly touching as it aspires to.

Via the only bit of voice-over narration in the entire flick, we open to learn our tormented heroine Amy is a recent victim of sexual abuse. "My life is a fuckin' nightmare...every waking moment, every time I close my eyes, I just relive the trauma. I'm never safe." As you can see, Amy is a broken soul, incapable of finding felicity in an ever-cruel, male-dominated world. She tries though, as her psychic scars have rendered a skein of bizarre behavior. She publicly parades around in a barrage of oddly costumed alter-egos - A giant lizard, a creepy scarecrow face, an odd hermaphrodite-mummy rocking a fake dick and bush that resembles a dangling carrot in a furry merkin salad - you know, that kind of thing. I suppose this is a way of masking the emotional cracks while finding physical liberation at once. An attempt at catharsis perhaps. But her friends are only so amused.

Amy's strange antics grow too much to bear. She's not only an inveterate farter harboring Freudian penile predilections and weird anal fixations, she's hardly a charmer in between. She dawdles through the woods, aimlessly, fake dangling dick on full-display. She intermittently dates dudes met on the internet that invariably end in angry arguments and crude, cockamamie rape overtures. That is, until she meets Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a nice enough, soft-spoken guy Amy ends up getting to know and like after awhile. She shares her off-putting quirks and peccadilloes with him, which he takes more or less in stride. She grows comfortable around him. Safe. Happy. However, all that changes when Amy discovers a devastating secret Kenny's been hiding. As it reminds her of the unspeakable violation and human perfidy she suffered prior, Amy heinously, maniacally, therapeutically, looks to exact her own clever bit of recompense.

But the issue is getting there. Once the film arrives at the 50 minute mark, there's a substantial 20 minute drop-off or so that makes the entire 80 minute experience feel well over two hours. There's an insufferably loose, saggy, unfocused stretch of action in the final third of the film that, while it does lead to a grand enough finale, really dampens the narrative as a whole. Major momentum is lost, and by the time a brutally dramatic attempt is made to get it back, the film is over. Additionally, FELT is not terribly scary. Sure it's repulsive and a bit shocking, uncomfortable to say the least, but for so-called horror joint, the terror is sorely lacking here. The emotional torment and psychological unrest is there, true, but it's never thrust heavily enough to really elicit heartfelt pathos in the end. Not to sound insensitive, but perhaps female viewers will have a much stronger reaction to the films finale than I did.

But for as wistful and ponderous as the film is during long stretches, it's FELT's overall eccentricity, striking imagery and daring performance of Everson that makes most of it jive. It's worth noting too that Everson is co-credited for the screenplay, and I'm not sure if that was born as a result of on the spot improvisation, but whatever the case, the dialogue in the film sounds authentic and naturalistic. For as perverted and outlandish as her actions become, and they really do, Amy's words tend to feel believable all the way through. This is vital to lending any shred of credibility to an otherwise odious character. And to that end, I dug how, even in victimhood, Amy's still portrayed as a deeply flawed human being. She isn't painted as a saintly by any means. She's downright deplorable at times. Not that we tend to forget what happened to her, it's that it doesn't fully define her as a person. For good and bad, she's more than that, which enables us to identify with her all the more. I just wish the final outburst was a bit more cathartic.

As a recap, FELT is worth a look for the compelling character study of a broken female eccentric dealing with a life-altering trauma. Amy Everson soars in the role of Amy, shading her character with befuddling idiosyncrasies that allow us to see beyond her victimhood. There's also a naturalism to the way she speaks and interacts with the other characters that make her seem real and multidimensional. And as repelling as she acts at times, we can relate. Sympathize. Unfortunately, the not-so-scary film drops off significantly near the end, and just when we're meant to undergo a true sense of redemptive relief...I personally FELT more numb than truly sated.

Extra Tidbit: FELT hits limited theaters this Friday, June 26th.
Source: AITH

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