Sanities Dissolve in a Concoction of EVIL! “Ladyworld” reviewed!

When a catastrophic ecological event traps eight teenage girls celebrating a birthday inside a house, they find themselves at the mercy of limited resources and with no adult supervision. With every window and door inescapably blocked, being trapped isn’t the only obstacle that looms over their adolescent minds when factions begin to form between sane and insanity as their cache of already scarce food and water quickly dwindle. Before her eventual disappearance, the birthday girl spoke of seeing a man attacking her right before the destructive shaking that left them befuddled. The remaining girls quickly line their thoughts in various ways from either spiraling out of control and embarking on a psyche control measure to deal with the haunting information or accepting the information and use it as a fear inducer for power. One-by-one, fears are exploited and minds are broken down to their most hostile and primal qualities that rapidly become an epidemic to those still in the realm of reality.

To preface director Amanda Kramer’s “Ladyworld,” there’s little background exposition or visual representation to really set the stage of psychological deterioration. The 2018 thriller can be said to be a modern, all-female take on the William Golding 1954 novel, “Lord of the Flies.” Produced by Pfaff and Pfaff Productions as well as A Love and Death production film, “Ladyworld” is essentially female centric and comes close to being true to form to its title in front and behind the camera with the debut feature directorial from Amanda Kramer. The script was also co-penned by Kramer and Benjamin Shearn. “Ladyworld” is credited as a festival circuit novelty with institutions such as the TIFF New Wave, BFI London, and Fantastic Fest, but “Ladyworld” is also novel in another way as in a doppelganger representation of Amanda Kramer herself as a filmmaker who sincerely believes in art house expressionism.

While all the actresses involved, portraying eight teenage girls, are spectacular in their own rite or as a pack, one particular actress stands out above the rest in name alone and more recently because of her debut in a popular science-fiction-horror Netflix series set in the 1980’s. Yup, “Stranger Things’” Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, has a co-starring role that elicits the use of her usually charmingly raspy voice into a gasp of unnerving bellows amongst her colorfully expressive mental deprivations. Yet, Hawke’s role, though equally headlined, seems more supportive against musician and television actress Ariela Barer and “Quija: Origin of Evil” actress Annalise Basso as the two teenage girls that consistently butt heads to jockey for leadership. The tension created between Barer and Basso is plumed unanticipated friction and is about as wild as any unpredictable scenario can muster. The last prominent character, the introduced unstable Dolly, has familiar parallels Ryan Simpkins’ Fangoria Chainsaw Award nominated performance in the also predominated all-female film, “Anguish,” from 2015. Simpkins trades in supernatural crazy for disastrous crazy as a teenage girl with a penchant for adding ten years her junior. Together, alternate and combative personalities fluctuate the proceedings, marking “Ladywold” unpredictable from not only Amanda Kramer’s broad-minded expression stance but also in solitary performances manage to flow as one. Rounding out the cast is Odessa Adlon, Tatsumi Romano, and Zora Casebere.

“Ladyworld” is an interesting experimental film and, unfortunately in this opinion, that’s about as far as this film might top in a market filled with visual pops, depth performances, and something new and shiny at every angle and turn. “Ladyworld” comes off a bit monotone to the preceptors in a flat line of congealed, unwavering tension from start to finish, despite coming to a head. Structurally, Kramer frames their environmental entrapment with just enough to make their plight more feasible without having to visually showcase it; the assumption, in one interpretation, is a Californian earthquake that resulted in a landslide that blocks all the windows and doors with hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of pressure against the opening. Though this is only one interpretation of events, Kramer is very good at cascading the effect into being much more dire by reminding us that no sires can be heard, cell service has ceased, and all hope is lost within the limited space their held. That kind of compelling of the unknown and cerebral warping uncertainty is quite alluring, but that gripping element is not found equally invasive throughout.

MVDVisual and Cleopatra Entertainment has positive womenism vibes with Amanda Kramer’s “Ladyworld” being released onto DVD home video. The 94 minute presentation is in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio format that leans conveying more to a bland and flat coloring scheme. Essentially faded, no pops of primary hues are implemented as if to devoid all hope from a helplessness scenario. Details are a bit fuzzy too resulting from an aliasing issue or jaggies around the outer edges of things. Usually with Cleopatra Entertainment releases, lossy audio tracks have been rearing their ugly heads which would cause many questions marks with reviewers familiar with Cleopatra Entertainment as its a sublabel to Cleopatra Records – a Los Angeles-based independent record label, but with “Ladyworld,” the English dual channel audio tracks is rather robust with accompanying range and depth. However, the Callie Ryan experimental acapella instrumental can be nails on a chalk board that, again, sets a gloomy tone that consistently punches you in every perceivable sensory organ. Bonus features are slim, including an image slideshow and the theatrical and teaser trailer. “Ladyworld” has niche appeal, but Amanda Kramer and crew really put themselves out into the cinema-verse with style and performance to ultimately deliver a surreal and frightening tapestry of the unhinged and underdeveloped teenage psyche.

Own Amanda Kramers all female casted “Ladyworld!”

Crazy Evil Women! Crush review!

crushCrush might be another edgy, teen melodramatic turned psychotic, obsessive-driven suspense genre film, but Crush provides a solid story that entertains. The teenage day-to-day runs over exaggerated throughout – a teenage life we wish we all had minus the crazy crush. Director Malik Bader works his black magic over his indie project that compares itself to a minor league version of 1993’s (29 years later…coincidence?) Crush starring Alicia Silverstone and Cary Elwes.

The most popular guy in high school has it all – a soccer superstar, good looks, and a beautiful best friend who is head over heels for him. His life seems perfect until a crush begins to secretly stalk him and remove any obstacles that may halt her destructive path that might interrupt their ultimate “union” together.
I’m going to begin with what I dislike about Crush. Crush, like I mentioned before, over exaggerates the teenage life. High School parties involving alcohol were never this easy to obtain, but for these “kids” the parties seem to be conjured with ease. Also, practically almost no adult presence or the adults are among the clueless crowd throughout the film. Parents are rarely clueless because adults were once teenagers. Thirdly, why in all these obsession thrillers are the mentally unstable women always model-like hot? My mental picture of a woman of this nature, should have a socially unpleasing appearance. I’m imagining a large nose, frizzy hair, over weight, frumpy, maybe even anorexic, gothic and such. However in Crush this is not the case. Lastly, every woman in the film has a hard on for the main character, the soccer superstar. Even his English teacher flirts with him, asks him to call her to “discuss” a novel (even though she never gave him the title of the book).

With all that said, there are numerous undertones to the film. Teacher-student relationship borders are being crossed, the socially accepted version of beauty, the absent presence of adults in a youth’s life, and the way we, as teens, want to perceive our young lives with parties, sex, and alcohol. Crush’s plot plays off these issues, but quickly just hints at most of them and then just as quickly discards.
Technically, the film can compete with most modern day productions. The story could use strategic work to cover up the twist ending because one could decipher the ending without having to watch the entire film. My most aggravating aspect of Crush is with DVD/Blu-ray cover as this gives away the film’s ending making act one and two of the film pretty much pointless. I’ve probably said too much already, but I won’t go into more details about that. In fact, I’ve probably done enough damage to the film’s reputation, but don’t take my word for it because Crush is certainly entertaining with hints of Swimfan sprinkled throughout – okay, maybe not sprinkled but definitely heavily garnished – and everybody loves watching crazy women when the crazy women aren’t being crazy on them.