Expectations Lead to EVIL in “The Cool Lakes of Death” reviewed! (Cult Epics / Blu-ray)

Set in the early 1900s, Hedwig’s childhood is filled with love, wealth, and innocence, but when her mother dies suddenly at the hands of typhoid, life turns complicated as death, draconian religious teachings, and an uncompassionate home clouds Hedwig’s mind on what exactly her relationship with men and with God should look like.  Punished for self-pleasure and scolded for her belief in fantasies, Hedwig enters adulthood as a conformist seeking to marry a well off man and have children in what was supposed to be the perfect union that reveals in sexuality the secret to marriage.  Prim and proper on the outside but a child on the inside, Hedwig misjudges her affairs with men and indulges in a pretense relationship with them.   When she finally finds happiness with a renowned pianist and the two have a child together, Hedwig’s hold on reality snaps as the child dies a few days later, sending the once elegant Hedwig into a tailspin of unhinged mental stability, drug addiction, and prostitution. 

“The Cool Lakes of Death” is the adapted film based off the Netherlands novel from the dual profession novelist and psychiatrist, Frederik van Eeden, entitled Van de koele meren des doods, which closely translates to “The Deeps of Deliverance,” a psychological period piece and melodrama with themes on the antiquated God-fearing expectations of a 19th century young woman, the solidity of marital unions, and a woman’s sexual liberation.  “The Cool Lakes of Death” is the follow up directorial from “A Woman Like Eve” director, Nouchka van Brakel,” off a screenplay written also by Brakel and co-written with Ton Vorstenbosch.  The exquisite tragedy of a woman submerged in societal misconceptions of love that can’t be forced and the mutuality of pleasures is yet another Dutch production from producer Matthijs van Heijningen and his company Sigma Film Productions, who have overseen a handful of Brakel films including “The Debut” and “A Woman Like Eve.”

Understanding the mixed emotions of a young girl in the throes of self-discovery, with a pinch for the dramatic flair, Renée Soutendijk gives a prismatic performance, glistened in a stringent social dogma, of hope and pity.  The Netherlands actress, who had the role of Miss Huller in the 2018 “Suspiria” remake, the inundated Hedwig, friends call her Hetty, who has inexhaustible amount of hope in her search for passion, but insurmountable roadblocks and obstacles corrupt Hetty’s mental processor.  Soutendijk’s elegance has a soft innocence to it, a naïve virtue that contrasts bleakly against the subtle and not so subtle influencers of Hetty’s life and Soutendijk really opens our eyes when Hetty’s full blown crazy in a clear and precise moment of snapping her rationality like a dried and brittle twig.  The performance digs at you and Brakel exploits the worst (good cinematically) parts of Hetty’s break that has her be a wild, naked woman thrashing, spitting, and puking in a locked room of a psyche ward, injecting needles into her arm night after night after selling her body to unscrupulous men, or even stuffing her newborn baby into a duffel bag and heads off to sea to search for her husband Gerard, a subdued, appearance concerned gay man that never cared physically for Hetty, played by Adriaan Olree in his debut performance.  Hetty comes across two other lovers; one a flyby and compassionate artist Johan (Erik van ‘t Wout), who would have matched her passion, but not her social status, and, eventually, she finds much of what she seeks in a renowned concert pianist Ritsaart (Derek de Lint, “When A Stranger Calls” remake), who refuses to admit their relationship in fear of scandal and ruin of his career.  Along the way, Hetty listens more to her blinded heart than she does her logical mind when intaking sound advice from advocates of her wellbeing as Ritsaart’s best friend Joop (Peter Faber, “A Woman Like Eve”), her best friend Leonora (Kristine de Both), and a hospital nun (Claire Wauthion) attempt to steer her toward a happier existence. 

I really can’t get enough of Hetty unable to secure her ideal happiness.  That might sound a little inconsiderate but what is a perfect relationship?  Brakel explores how an sought ideal can turn into a damaging expedition for the white whale.  Instead of being the ill-fated, hellbent Captain Ahab, Hetty’s land based monomaniacal drive of fairytale love becomes her ultimate downfall, sinking her deeper into the depths of despair, loneliness, and a cataclysmic separation from reality.  Gerard wasn’t perfect because he secretly longed for men, Johan didn’t have the right social stature for a lady of her status, and Ritsaart kept their love hidden below the public eye.  There’s a quite a bit of feminism loitering around in that last statement with a touch of selfishness to no fault of Hetty’s and all circulate back to some sort of suppression whether it’s sexually or emotionally umbrellaed by patriarchal doctrine, discourse, and discipline.  The culture toxicity is so severe that the older generation of women are beguiled by it’s power to be controlling others themselves under the thumb of a male-dictated society as we see in Hetty’s Governess in tattling on her pupil’s every move to her wimp of a widowed father.  “The Cool Lakes of Death” is a beautiful disaster in almost a sing-songy narrative delivered by director Nouchka van Brakel’s mighty delicate touch. 

For the first time in North America and single in a trilogy of Nouchka van Brakel releases from Cult Epics, as well as in a trilogy boxset, the 1982 downcast drama “The Cook Lakes of Death,” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray home video.  The New 4k High-Def transfer is scanned from the original 35mm negative with an impeccable and nearly blemish-free restoration.  The film is presented in the European matted widescreen, 1.66:1 aspect ratio, with plenty of good looking natural grain and a softer image in the trashy romance first act then to a harsher, grittier quality during the time of her ruin under the eye of Theo van de Sande who ventured from the Netherlands to the U.S. later in his career and worked on Joe Dante’s “The Hole,” “Little Nicky,” and “Blade.”  A couple of whip pans into deep focus shots enrich the production, a technique that has served Sande in his later work.  The Dutch language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossy audio is as good as this title will ever see without an actiony framework.  Dialogue is completely discernible with well synched English subtitles.  A few pops in the span but no major damage to the audio to speak about in length.  Soundtrack has barrier moments of muffled penetration.  Not too many special features to touch upon with the theatrical trailer, a poster and sill gallery, a 1982 newsreel unearthed from the Polygoon Journal archive, and a reversible Blu-ray cover. “The Cool Lakes of Death” is young and naïve adolescence transitioning into womenhood only to be tripped up every step of the way; Hetty’s eager to blossom turns to withering as the underdog in life’s kennel and Brakel’s purificatory rite of passage beautifully disembowels hope and dreams in a dreamy fashion until finding faith in life come full circle, well almost, in commencing with both feet standing into adulthood.

“The Cool Lakes of Death” on Blu-ray Home Video at Amazon.com

Sometimes, The Choice Itself is EVIL. “A Woman Like Eve” reviewed! (Cult Epics / Blu-ray)



Eve is a stay at home mother of two who ensures the house is in tiptop shape and that dinner is promptly on the table for her working husband, Ad.  When Eve has a break down at the Mother’s Day family dinner table, Ad purchases her a train ticket to enjoy France’s sun and sand with her best friend, Sonja.  There she meets an alluring woman, Liliane, living freely and humbly in a commune.  An attraction flourishes between them after Eve returns to home to the Netherlands and can’t stop thinking of her time with Liliane.  Soon, they become romantically involved with Liliane travelling back and forth from France and that sets the stage for conflict as Ad discovers his wife’s yearning desires for Liliane to horrid and confusing for their young children not to mention also their marriage.  Eve is caught in the middle between the woman she desperately wants to be with who still lives in the commune and her children she can’t deal to part from in a tug-a-war of emotions wrought by a failing marriage, society perceptions on lesbianism, and damaging court room battles for children custody.

When thinking about the history of LGBTQ+ films and the filmmakers behind them, director Nouchka van Brakel’s “A Woman Like Eve” should be at the top of any film aficionado’s list despite flying, unjustifiably, under the radar for decades as the Dutch film makes a profound statement with, at the time, unmapped gender fluidity of the 1970’s timeframe that included the women liberation movement that sought to free domesticated women from the limitations of household responsibilities, it cracked the barriers on what constitutes as healthy union between two people, and dove into the intricate internal struggles of a keystone person being pulled between two very different lives of family dynamics.   Co-written alongside Judith Herzberg, the 1979 romance drama, natively titled “Een vrouw als Eva,” has a very different kind of evil than the werewolves, vampires, zombies, serial killers, and ghosts typically showcased in our reviews and that is those narrow-mindedly frighteningly submerged in antiquated traditions peered through the perspective of a feminist director in Brakel.  Matthijs van Heijningen, who produced Dick Maas’s elevator-horror “The Lift” and also Brakel’s prior work on “The Debut” and later work on “The Cool Lakes of Death,” produces the Dutch tale under his indie banner, Sigma Pictures.”

“A Woman Like Eve” would not have been as provocative with thickly layered nonconformist and spirited topics without the compelling performance of the film’s two leading ladies in Monique van de Ven (Paul Verhoeven’s “Turkish Delight”) as Eve and  Maria Schneider (“Last Tango in Paris” costarring Marlon Brando).  Van de Ven captures a woman tormented by not only what “proper” society, society being her friends and family, tells her to be, but also distresses going against the grain of her innate guilt and nurture for her two small children during a time of emotional transition that impels her to pursue a relationship with not just any other person but another woman.  That other woman being Liliane, an established outlier of what’s considered normal as a lesbian living how she wants in an outskirts commune, and while Schneider’s performance treads lightly through what should be mountains of emotions, especially in a role that has a foundation of someone been out of closet, doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and has tethered a line of security to her soul fulfillment center, Liliane still maintains as the steady constant that never wavers from who she is and what she wants.  Toss in the German born and “A Bridge Too Far” actor, Peter Faber, and you can see the gunpowder burn for miles in tense and uncomfortable discourse when Eve confides into Faber’s character, Eve’s husband Ad, about her proclaimed love for another woman and then we witness Ad patronize her with what he calls an epidemic of woman independence and shrugs her true feelings like scraping foods scraps from a dinner plate and into the trash. Faber can get downright ugly with the homophobic bigotry that begins to carousel Eve’s ebb and flow of having any kind relationship with her separated husband until justice system proceedings for children custody. Marijke Merckens, Renée Soutendijk, Anna Knaup, Truus Dekker, and Mike Bendig round out as the support characters caught is the web of Eve’s love affairs and legal issues.

Feminist filmmaker Nouchka van Brakel depicts tremendous themes of a woman’s status in what could have been a universal position for women all over the globe. Seen as only housekeepers, dinner makers, and children bearers or caretakers, women were placed at a standstill after suffragists fought for the right vote at the turn of the 20th century but that fire inside them stayed lit and you can see that with Eve in the opening scenes as she’s longing and looking for something more than to be a house wife. She eventually obtains something more with love for Liliane, the second theme Brakel implements extends upon unfettering women is with lesbianism. Lesbianism is shown to bring down shame upon family, friends, and even just society in general as Eve was offered no solace from those she had a prior relationship with after coming out, a choice seen as a radical and an integration part of that women’s independence movement. Brakel wanted to explore uncharted passion between woman and woman and, in doing so, lifted the curtain on on various foremost concepts that are still…still being talked about today where inequality in the workplace through sexism and salaries still wage a battle of the sexes and homosexuality is still too taboo for even the modern day system. “A Woman Like Eve” has surely inspired and been of homage in more modern pieces, such as “Blue is the Warmest Color,” and should be exhibited more educationally on it’s abundance of relatable themes and not just be another work of unseen cult fiction but be rather a praised film of realism based on nonfiction.

To watch Eve toil in her new life is like climbing Mount Everest; it’s a long, arduous journey with challenging, sometimes spirit crushing, obstacles to overcome in order to reach the top, but once above the cloud, the tooth and nail fight for what’s finally yours and yours alone can be worth it. Unfortunately for Eve, her cumulus glass ceiling is poignant. “A Woman Like Eve” importance is shamefully overlooked and that’s why I’m grateful Cult Epics has brought Brakel’s film, for the first time, on DVD and Blu-ray in North America. Basing this review off the Blu-ray release, clocking in with a 103 minute runtime, the newly restored high definition transfer from the original 35mm print, shown in 1.66:1 aspect ratio, looks respectable from a moderately preserved transfer. An occasion scratch and some real delineation issues with night scenes factor in only little impact when the story is shot mostly in bright daylight and is well light all around with lots of natural grain. No cropping, compression artefacts, or enhancing was detected and the coloring appears very natural without any overcorrecting or mistakes in the primary or secondary hues. The new Dutch/English/French language DTS-HD master audio 2.0 renders dialogue clearly and positioned as the foremost track with a solid sync with the error-free English captioning. There’s a slight lower key hum throughout and some crackling and popping but none of those are a hinderance to the viewing. As far as bonus material, the region free, unrated release contains a 2020 interview between Brakel and film journalist Floortje Smit at the Eye Filmmuseum, a poster and still gallery, and the theatrical trailer on a dual-layered disc. The limited edition package includes new and original cover art on a reversible case sleeve. Probably seen as antiquated celluloid, I see Nouchka van Brakel’s LGBTQ proud and woman empowering film, “A Woman Like Eve,” as historical treasure dug up by Cult Epics, carefully spit-shine restored, and encapsulated forever on physical media for all to enjoy.

Purchase “A Woman Like Eve” on Blu-ray or DVD

Two Undisciplined Girls Do EVIL in the Netherlands! “My Nights With Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie” review!


After years with struggling with fame, Susan finds solace in an idyllic and solitude Netherlands’ farmhouse near the waterfront. Her peaceful lodging transforms in a youth hostel as she welcomes three refuge women – Sandra, Olga, and Julie – and one man – Albert – into her life and in exchange for a place to stay, Susan embraces the company after her entanglement with loneliness. Despite Sandra and Olga’s sex-crazed psychopathy and an unhinged Albert’s voyeuristic habits, Susan has been able to maintain an even keel quality of life. That’s until the handsome Anton shows up. His arrival stirs the nest of sexual desires and has Susan questioning her reclusive lifestyle. Anton’s presence also riles up Piet, a crazed women living in a shed on the outskirts of the farmhouse. To make matters more complex, Anton becomes mixed into a murder mystery involving a dead American. Was it the mischievous sexual delinquents Sandra and Olga? Or did the wild Piet finally snap her moral conscious?

During the height of the 70’s sexual revolution, the Dutch seize the opportunity to piggyback their own free love films. Pim de la Parra’s 1978 “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie is an epitome example of the Dutch sex wave genre that shares the tantalizing groping, succulent squeezing, fornicating spooning, and …well, you get the idea. Originally titled as the longwinded My Nights with Susan, Olga, Albert, Julie, Piet, & Sandra (whew), this film is the last production of Pim de la Parra’s Scorpio Films from a script co-authored between Parra, Harry Kumel from Belgium, David Kaufman from America, Charles Gormley from Scotland, and Carel Donck from the Netherlands in a melting pot of cultural creativity. “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie” sizzles the screen with nudity in characters just walking around or riding on a child’s rocking horse stark naked that’s ostensibly organic for a story beginning with cold blooded, arbitrary murder.

Before partying the circumstantial matron of a youth hostel, Netherlands’ Willeke van Ammelrooy was Eva in “Frank & Eva,” another film by Pim de la Parra. She was also Alicia in “Blue Movie” director Wim Verstappen’s “Alicia” and also played Mira in Fons Rademakers’ “Mira.” As the evidence provides, Ammelrooy is very experienced as the leading lady role, portraying three titular characters from 1971-1974 by post-humorously acclaimed Netherland directors. Yet again, Ammelrooy plays a titular character in Susan, a country cloistered luminary seeking to be a forgotten face, but Ammelrooy steely performance of a woman pretending not to be hiding secrets is a fascinating insight into a character’s personal shielding; however, when Anton, “Wet Dreams’” Hans van der Gragt, their hot and cold dynamic creates a formidable hard love rigidity influenced by forces internal to Susan and external forces from those her immediate life at the farmhouse. Olga and Sandra have more intoxicating behaviors that run the story amok and what’s more interesting about the actresses, Franulka Heyermans and Marja de Heer, is that they’re amateur actresses according to Pim de la Parra. Cold and, yet, lively, Heyermans and Heer have mountainous ration and serve Parra genuinely. Marieke van Leeuwen, Serge-Henri Valcke, Jerry Brouer, and Nelly Frijda round out the small cast.

Pim de la Parra’s influences stem heavily from Alfred Hitchcock. The filmmaker implements voyeurism and the wrongfully accused that are essential to the Hitchcockian style. I also find it hard to believe that on the first day of shooting on Hitchcock’s birthday, August 13, that Pim de la Parra’s first scenes are that of birds on a beach. Coincidence or a little salute to the master of suspense, either way, the now retired filmmaker unifies a harrowing score with birds and a beach to not only by respects to Hitchcock, but also sets the tone of the film of an erotic thriller with blotches of dark comedy strewn in.

Cult Epics proudly releases “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie” onto a new high definition two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo set. Presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in a 1080p transfer from the original 35mm print, preserved by the Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam. The original print is nearly pristine with a palatable amount of stock grain and with only a minor amount of film wear. No observations of border enhancing or sharpening that would dilute the bona fide quality. The Dutch DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track nicely accompaniments the film with depth and range and the Dutch dialogue upfront and present and the very Hitchcock-esque soundtrack by Elisabeth Lutyens (“The Skull”) provided a perfect suspense drive score in her last composer post. Supplements includes an introduction by Pim de la Parra, poster and photo video gallery, Scorpio Films’ shorts that includes “Heart Beat Fresco,” “Joop,” and “Joop Strikes Again,” and Scorpio Films’ theatrical trailers. Cult Epic’s region 1 DVD and the all region Blu-ray release favors another Dutch sex wave cinema flavor with just modernization of an intertwinement of erotically charged lust and lives with repulsive and deadly temperaments and with Pim de la Parra at the helm, you’re going to get primo framing and angles sure to captivate.

Purchase by Clicking the Blu-ray Cover!

This Apartment Block is All About the Evil Beast with Two Backs! “Blue Movie” review!


After spending five years in incarceration for being convicted of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl, the now 25-year-old Michael has been released and is in the hands of a parole officer, Eddie. Eddie arranges housing for Michael in an apartment block, providing some pocket cash and job prospects to get the reserved demeanor parolee back on his feet and reintegrate him back into society that has radically changed in his favor in half a decade. Though having these advantages at his fingertips to start a new life, non-violent sexual urges still race through Michael’s blood and Eddie has nested him right smack in the middle of many young women with hefty promiscuous appetites. Michael must try to keep up the tiresome façade of clean living when Eddie’s sudden pops up as he continues his sexual escapades through the likes of married women, threesomes, and kinky block flat neighbors.

Viva la revolucion! Or should I say, “Lang leve de revolutie” in this censor ban breaking Dutch sex-comedy, “Blue Movie,” from breakthrough writer-director Wim Verstappen alongside cowriter Charles Gormley. Verstappen and Gormley’s experience on the 1971 feature forms a long time collaboration through an immense body of work of films in the 1970’s including “Dakota,” “Alicia,” and “Don’t Worry Too Much.” Masked an adult romance, “Blue Movie” exploits sex to be the symbolism of choice when exhibiting the Netherlands antiquated view on censorship that bogged down their local film industry and led a bold, new Dutch filmmaking expanse that goes onto dismantling the Dutch Censorship board.

Michael is a cool cucumber, who just step one foot free out of prison. On parole and looking to restart his life again from the generous assistance by a parole-like officer, Michael is set up an a apartment block with a view of the land, but the ex-con looks inward, at his neighbors, his beautiful, succulent, and promiscuous flat mates that hone in the fresh meat. Hugo Metsers captures Micheal’s essence, a gentle ex-con, even when Metsers’ sporting thick, under-jowl mutton chops. Then there’s Eddie, whose in a parole officer type position, yet tries eagerly to be puritanical guardian angel on Michael’s sordid shoulder. Seemingly part of some foundation that helps ex-cons get back on their feet, as I assume this to be a Netherlands’ societal reform program of sorts, Eddie solicits his steer clear and keep your nose clean advice, randomly checks in at all times of the day, and even makes furniture purchases for Michael’s bare flat. Eddie’s nose is so intrusive, he oversteps his position in an attempt to sweet talk a building tenant on Michael’s behalf, right out outside the parolee’s flat door. Helmert Woudenberg, another actor in Wim Verstappen’s cache of talent, does annoyingly helpful well. Woudenberg, who later had a role in Dick Maas’s “Amsterdamned,” portrays Eddie’s antiquated beliefs on Netherlands sex culture with such poised conviction that the character does feel like a lonely satellite cut off from progressing mothership. The women characters are extremely important in Blue Movie because they’re key to Michael’s motivation to not be only rooster in the hen house but to help him find actual love and while not one actress plays opposite to Michael, Ine Veen’s Julia stands out as the pivotal moment in Michael’s stagnant and sleazy stint. Julia is beautiful and coy as she’s casually noted to Michael upon their first exchange that she rather listen than to talk, but Julia comes with baggage – a child. The only child in Verstappen’s film is the main obstacle in Michael’s conquering of the opposite sex in the entire apartment block. He even backs out of a date with Julia upon seeing her tending to the child’s need first, transferring his needs into being very brash and childlike, but once Michael sustains and profits from his transient lifestyle, an obvious void is left unfulfilled until Julia strolls back into his life. Veen’s blue eyes are striking and could be theorized why this movie is titled “Blue Movie” as she’s truly the object of his affection. Ursula Blauth (“Sex is Not for Virgins”), Kees Brusse, Carry Tefsen (“Diary of a Hooker”), Marijke Boonstra (“Obsessions”), Monique Smal, and Mimi Kok from “De mantel del Liefe” costar.

While Verstappen’s film was an influential piece during the Netherland’s anti-censorship and freedom of expression movement that allow creativity and taboo material to flow less restrictively, the filmmaker, or rather Jan De Bont, was a technically careless cinematographer. Sure, “Blue Movie” was on produced on micro-budget shot in a cramped location that’s very intimate and authentic for the material, but Verstappen and Bont let slide various goofs in the final cut, such as boom mic shadows, the boom mic itself, and, I believe, the director’s hand going in and out of frame twice in one scene. Along with the crew and equipment mishaps, the script or scheduling shooting has perplexing timing issues that defy the natural order of passing time. Michael goes through a series of events in, what is assumed, his initial weeks at the apartment block and even the jump between having elicit affairs with a married women and being the third party of group sex in a romping montage have plausible time possibilities. Yet, Michael’s story teleports into his money-making scheme of selling the sexual lifestyles of the rich and horny. There was no brainstorm light bulb that sudden illuminates his status from no job bed wanderer to the CEO of variety sex shows staged in his 2 bed, 1 bath flat.

From the company that delivered “Frank & Eva,” Cult Epics presents another Netherlands film, “Blue Movie,” onto a Blu-ray/DVD combo release. Shot in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, aka Academy Ratio, the original negative has remained virtually unvarnished and Cult Epics presents a new high definition restoration and transfer by the Eye Film Institute. Natural grain looks great. The coloring remains stable throughout and the hues border the natural and just below slightly too brilliant – Ine Veen’s blue eyes could be made a case. The Dutch and German Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is, again, a fine transfer with clear dialogue and not a pinch of pops or crackles. The optional English subtitles are well synched without translational error. Bonus material includes pre-debut film interview with director Wim Verstappen, interview with producer Pim de la Parra at the Sex Wave Festival, interview with Hugo Metsers Jr. about his father later in life and his erotically charged moment on the first time he saw his father’s film, Eye Film Institute featurette, “Blue Movie” HD poster and photo video gallery, and the original Scorpio Films trailer of the film. Wim Verstappen pioneered the Dutch Sex Wave with “Blue Movie,” a controversial artistic brief rendition of the Netherlands’s breakneck cultural upgrade to a more fluid and modern lifestyles and cinema sauté.

In a Wasteland Full of Evil, There’s “Molly” review!


Molly is a loner scavenger in a post-apocalyptic badlands. She’s hunted down by a separate faction of scavengers to be a champion in their sadistic one-on-one bouts as Supplikants, ruthless and mindless killing machines produced by a synthetic drug. With food being scarce and peoples’ humanity on the edge of total extinction, Molly’s on the run on barren land until she happens upon Bailey, a young girl held up in a makeshift tent and waiting for her departed parents to return with food. When the scavengers track down Molly, Bailey becomes a bargaining chip, used as bait to lure sought after Molly to the scavenger offshore compound where the odds are in their favor, but Molly knows how to fight when she forgoes using her pulsating supernatural power. She will stop at nothing to save and protect Bailey, one of the last good and innocent humans left amongst desolation and savagery.

One part mad science, one part cyberpunk, “Molly” is all post-apocaplytic kickass from Netherlands’ director Colinda Bongers and co-directed with screenwriter Thijs Meuwese. “Molly” is this generations “Mad Max,” a vibrant gauntlet of darkness with a speck of illuminating hope, with the very first scene being a brief glimpse of the past, a fun-in-the-sun holiday at the beach, but in a split second, the cut-to abruptly cuts out the chirping of seagulls, the jovial laughter of children, and the familiar hum of all beach goers. The story literally cuts to the chase with Molly running for her very survival from three armed scavengers, setting up the story from the get go that Molly’s guard would always be tested. “Molly,” without a doubt, resembles a George Miller first film concoction of noticeable low-budget quality with high caliber, high-octane action.

Julia Batelaan tackles the namesake role. The then 20-year-old Batelaan musters up enough physicality to compete with a highly demanding character despite her slender, unlikely heroine frame. Batelaan is no Gal Gadot, but she gives the performance all she can and, then, gives some more in a role that requires a lot of gear to be worn, numerous fight sequences, extended physical scenes, and brief nudity whilst in battle. Batelaan clearly overshadows a cohort of onscreen antagonists, including even her best possible match as a rival by Annelies Appelhof who displays a different kind of tough; one that’s more henchman centric and mechanically advanced. Appelhof’s taller, broader, and equally as tender as Batelaan that dictates her character, Kimmy, the ideal barrier to best if Molly wants to succeed. Yeah, of course, there’s also a clear cut boss in actor Joose Bolt. In the role of Deacon, a maniacal scavenger leader hellbent on winning the world’s bullet currency through the mortal combat of Supplikants by proxy, Boost supplements a harlequin character to fold. “Molly” also includes Emma de Paauw, Tamara Brinkman, and Andre Dongelmans in the cast.

While Molly’s a beautifully visual film with moments to be excited about, Bongers and Meuwese’s post-apocaplytic tale has a hard time being a great film to revisit over and over again. For one, the fight choreography is a slow and robotically rehearsed and doesn’t strike as completely natural. In fairness, this flaw should be given a pass as the last shot is just over a half-hour long of an uncut take of Molly doing her best Tony Jaa impersonation with extended fight takes from room-to-room, up to the top boss level, as if you’re nostalgically playing Streets of Rage 2 (ya know?! On the Sega Genesis!). Yet, there’s still something off about “Molly” and one could say that that the focus of storyline uneasiness surrounds Molly herself: Who is Molly? Why does she have super powers? Where did she come from? Why does she really care for this child? All good questions that don’t really come to fruition in the film, but have promise to be answered by the open-to-a-sequel ending.

Artsploitation Films presents “Molly” on a high definition 1080p Blu-ray home video in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio format. Bongers and Meuwese deliver such rich coloring while not over-saturating the 2017 film to the point of obnoxiousness; Molly herself is a hue enriched character, with all her gear, trekking through a desolate oceanside landscape that’s mainly white sand and brown foliage, especially with the marauders who also sport ragged, dark colors, and leaving such an impacting visual aesthetic to digest while concreting a heroine. The English DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound is full of range from a slew of kick-punches from the numerous fight sequences to the juicy stitching of her own profusely bleeding wound. Even though this is a Dutch film, the casts’ English is quite good and well prevalent. Bonus features include a 30-minute featurette entitled “Making of Molly,” directors’ commentary with Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese, and Artsploitation Films trailers. Bordering self-explosion with a barely hinged story, “Molly” eeks out an entertaining, post-apocalyptic, retribution narrative on the opposite side of the spectrum and the palette punctuating visuals and an extremely long take finale make this film a science fiction worth scavenging for!