Pulpmovies Cult Film Reviews
Bent: Volume One is an anthology – three short films tied together by the idea that life, like water, can be suddenly and irrevocably bent.
The films can be watched either individually or as an anthology and how you watch them will come down more to personal preference than anything else – the only difference being the watery narration linking the films in the anthology version. I sat down and watched the entire anthology in one go, but that’s because I’m the sort of person who prefers to sit down and watch the entire anthology in one go.
The idea that a single event can dramatically change the course isn’t a particularly unique one and this is reflected in the wide variety in both style and subject matter of the three films that make up this anthology.
The first film, Marisa, is an exercise in purely visual storytelling.
The dialogue and narration free story starts with the sound of three gunshots and then cuts to a black and white shot of a girl (Cassie Ross) - presumably Marisa - pointing a gun at the camera.
The story of how she got to this point is told through a series of colour flashbacks intercut with black and white scenes of a tearful Marisa cleaning her gun.
Marisa’s combination of excellent visuals, a truly atmospheric soundtrack and a superb performance from Cassie Ross makes the absence of dialogue feel completely natural. It’s a spellbinding story and a textbook example of how much can be conveyed without words.
The next film, Haunted is – not surprisingly - a ghost story.
A group of gangsters is hired to kidnap a woman and execute her boyfriend. The execution takes place as planned and the woman is taken to an abandoned warehouse while her captors await their paymaster.
Unfortunately, there is something else in the warehouse with them…
Haunted is probably the least ambitious of the three films – the story plays out pretty much as you’d expect with no particularly surprising plot twists.
That said, the abandoned – and darkened – warehouse does provide a very atmospheric setting and the jumpy editing does an excellent job of maintaining the tension throughout; and there are a few well executed scenes to make you jump at all the right moments.
It’s also nice to see that director, Jason Santo has recognised that a half glimpsed image is a lot more unnerving than a brightly lit lump of latex.
The final film, His Life, focuses on the character of Martin (Roman Berman) whose belief that he would die at the age of 25 led him to abandon his friends and family seven years earlier in order to cram as much into his life as he could.
Now it’s his twenty fifth birthday and he’s back to make amends.
His Life is an interesting and largely effective film in which Martin has to come to terms with the fact that he’s been so busy cramming in experiences that he hasn’t actually lived.
Unfortunately, the film suffers quite a lot from Berman’s uninspired acting. For me, he simply didn’t come across as someone who has spent seven years travelling the world and is now starting to learn some uncomfortable truths about himself. And this is a shame because the film has the potential to be superb rather than just interesting.
Overall, Jason Santo is very talented as both a writer and director. I have both Bent: Volume Two and Bent: Volume Three in my screener queue and am looking forward to both of them.