Gambis invites the audience into Mendel’s state of mind through a slippery structure. The plot jumps back in time with flashbacks that make blind, bumpy jumps that cut the plot points. These omissions are minor beats, like getting the first shoot of a big tattoo or calling his girlfriend to join him in Mexico. Yet such jumps push us into a strange uneasiness that reflects his psychological trauma. Fortunately, it gives an otherwise stagnant drama an exciting edge.
Although intellectually stimulating, “Son of Monarchs” is emotionally anemic, anchoring its pathos in two stoic brothers. We are greeted in Mendel’s head, but not in his heart. Alone, he ruminates, looking halfway. In the company of others, he walks away from talking about his problems. Thanks to the flashbacks, we are only allowed to penetrate his fears, not his desires. A decisive confrontation therefore lacks a satisfactory catharsis. Looking at him, I wondered if I had missed something, a crucial piece that would make this moment snap. It’s as if Gambis had reduced Mendel’s sacrifice experience too much to capture his menacing madness. Thus, the final act, which revisits the rituals and the decorations to recover them, only works in theory and not in feeling. I stayed nodding, not knocked out.
Forget about dreams, “The Flaming World” is here to take you deeper into the deep end with a spooky version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Rather than a rabbit hole with a fluffy white bunny, this style-packed horror thriller takes Udo Kier and a wormhole to another dimension. A harassed heroine, Margaret Winter first spotted this particular portal the day her twin sister drowned in the family pool. All these years since, she has been haunted by visions of this smiling man and the precious girl in a bubblegum pink dress. Could it be that his beloved sister is not dead, but trapped in another dimension? Hoping to save her, Margaret returns to a house that quickly becomes a hell of demons, puzzles, and pain.
Actress Carlson Young is not only at the forefront of the film, but is also making her directorial debut with a screenplay she co-wrote with Pierce Brown. Together, they build a psychedelic journey through grief and forgiveness. Color is carefully used to create a stark contrast between the pale present, where winters linger in agony, and the funhouse mirror version of their home, where the colors are fiercely vibrant, like poison frogs warning against danger. Each step of Margaret’s journey takes her to an increasingly curious realm. A cotton candy sky stretches over a merciless desert. Inky shadows and blood red accents cover a dark den. Scorching green hallways with moving door frames lead to a dining room adorned with candles reminiscent of the underground lairs of “Pan’s Labyrinth”. Then, in them hide clearly disturbing monsters.