Braid (2018)

I often say things out loud to nobody in particular, like “Hey, why don’t they make movies like Daughters of Darkness or Kill, Baby, Kill any more?” The truth is, someone just did. Somehow, Mitzi Peirone, in the first feature-length movie she ever wrote or directed, tapped into the psychosexual DNA of the woman on the verge of madness and the supernatural genre, all while filtering pieces through psychedelia, the giallo, the art film and who knows what else. Throw in the fact that this movie was the first one to ever be fully financed through a cryptocurrency equity crowdsale — something and I do not even pretend to understand — and you have the makings of something big.

So a warning: if you haven’t seen the film, the only way that I can talk about it is by really going deep into what happens in the film. The funny thing is, there are so many ways to view this movie — and what’s real and what isn’t — that I’m not even sure what I’m writing are spoilers.

This movie could be about any — or all — of these things:

  1. Two college students (they may also be reality stars and/or internet dom porn queens) run from a drug bust, losing $80,000 worth of drugs, which they had purchased with their college tuition. To get the money back, they decide to rob the developmentally challenged friend that they once pushed out of a treehouse, causing her to lose the ability to have children. However, she was always insane and the closer she has grown to adulthood, the further away she has moved from sanity. Can they get the money, get out and not be trapped by her game?
  2. Three young girls have been playing the same game for so long that they could be anywhere from 8 years old to 20 years old to senior citizens, constantly replaying the same elaborately staged game. My theory here is bolstered by the taunts of Tiresias The Omniscient Homeless Man — named for the blind prophet of Apollo who was both clairvoyant and forced to be a woman for seven years — who yells, “You old witches always come back here.”
  3. A druggy kaleidoscopic run through a playground that makes little to no sense, suffused with neon glows, flashes backward and forward, with plenty of noise and no small amount of pretentiousness. I mean, Variety went as far as to say that this movie is “so void of any substance beyond the pretentiously pictorial that one suspects (the director’s) real calling is in music videos or advertising.”
  4. All of the above. Potentially more.

Imagine Grey Gardens with more sex and much more violence, as directed by a mixture of Jodorowsky and Jean Rollin, with lighting by Nicolas Winding Refn doing dabs with Mario Bava.

Shot in Alders Manor in Yonkers, NY (the one-time 20th century Renaissance Revival home of mining magnate W.B. Thompson that is available to rent for parties), this movie is technically about childhood friends gone to seed Petula (Imogen Waterhouse, Nocturnal Animals) and Tilda (Sarah Hay, Black Swan and a one-time attendee of the video You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Ballet Party, no less) who are attempting to steal from their long-lost friend Daphne Peters (Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid’s TaleOrange Is the New Black). The only real person — then again, maybe not — who comes into their lives is Detective Siegel, the cop who questioned Petula and Tilda after Daphne fell — was pushed? — from a treehouse all those years ago.

Now, the game begins again: Daphne is the mother, Petula is the doctor and Tilda is the daughter who is the patient. There are three rules: 1. Everyone plays. 2. No outsiders allowed. 3. Nobody leaves.

I have a lot of high faluting ideas about what it all means, but they’re probably all wrong. You’ll probably feel the same way after you watch it. I’d be interested in your take, though.

Run home, quit your job and watch this on Amazon Prime right now. I need more people to argue about its merits or lack of cohesion or what parts are real and which aren’t.

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