Thorns for Flowers Movie Review

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

Released by ADL Films

thorns for flowers poster large

Written and directed by Anthony de Lioncourt
2016, 95 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on June 7th, 2016

Vance Clemente as Leo
Samantha Strelitz as Catherine Lambert
Gary Marachek as Detecive Bennett
Mark Mattson as The Mangler
Alissa Simmons as Gretchen

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A terrifying murderer called The Mangler is slaughtering hapless women around New York. The absolutely terrible police force have no clue how to solve these murders, and slimy Detective Bennett is hanging all of hopes on solving this on a psychic named Leo. Leo is recovering from his own trauma while the case unfolds around him. But wait, are there connections with this case and his past that he hasn’t made yet? Is the beautiful, (allegedly) agoraphobic Catherine Lambert, who had barely escaped the murderer before, able to help him find his way to the truth?

And what’s hidden within the little antique box Leo’s always carrying?

To find all this out, you’ll have to be very patient with the style, the acting and the pacing. In this film’s universe, characters are pulled between idyllic pastoral locations and grimy city life, creepy authority figures prey on mostly-innocent women, and depressed psychics mope around girls in floaty pastel dresses – while lengthy flashbacks reveal traumatic childhoods. Oh, and the horrible grindhouse murders happen every so often, too. Actually, the killer’s design is simple but rather effective. The whole thing is not bad to look at, it just takes a good while to get where it’s going.

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It’s saved by a very strong cast – the acting is also on point for the era – and Leo is played with the right blend of self-loathing and shyness. His haircut is channelling The Room’s Tommy Wisseau for good measure… so your mileage may vary. But everyone in this does exactly what they’re supposed to and, within this weird, dreamlike world, they do it really well. In that sense, it’s rather like Mandy, another acquired taste which is deeply in love with old school campiness and frequently over the top acting.

If you do have the patience for the particular grain of 1970s cinema that Thorns for Flowers recreates, then it’s an excellent retro treat. It’s absolutely pitch-perfect as a long-lost piece of exploitation cinema, and its dreamlike storytelling and frequently awkward camera angles all feel authentically torn from that era, delivering a product much higher in quality than I expected. Dreamlike, ambitious and often ridiculous, Thorns for Flowers is a weird way to spend 90 minutes, and is well worth seeing if you have a taste for quirky, off-the-wall visuals.

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Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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