Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ryan Watches a Motion Picture #13: The Mushroom Prophet (2006)

This here is a pretty rare occurrence - a locally made feature film, and there's a strange joy in glimpsing its occasional kitchener/waterloo scenery.

The film is essentially a man's shamanistic and atmospheric journey through the wilderness, ending when he reaches a mushroom-induced revelation about the nature of the beast that is human civilization. The Mushroom Prophet is director Gary Mundell's first feature, and it's not terribly surprising that his film goes overboard on several different fronts.

Like when there's a great looking shot, and there are some really great shots, it lasts for much, much longer than it needs to. At a two hour run time, the film could have easily been clipped down to the 80 minute mark without any loss of force or effect. Technique-wise it goes overboard too. Like when an elaborate sequence of crane shots is used for a guy simply walking out of his house. The writing goes overboard by way of being redundant, as the same thought is expressed over and over again in only slightly differing ways. Now, there isn't much dialogue in this movie, but when it does come it comes in overly long and pontificating speeches. Still, the rant coming from the trucker about corporate power, enhanced by a fish-eye lens, is memorable due to its coming out of absolutely nowhere.

While not very much happens, it achieves a meandering, dreamlike atmosphere that kept me occupied for most of the film. The plot is vague, and I gather that Mushroom Prophet serves more as a mood piece, or a personal and shamanistic drug-trip than a story. But from what I picked up, the film seems to be set in a deserted and haunted Canadian north country, where the Sasquatch have returned, and where America has become a police state. Most of that is alluded to in dialogue, though the Sasquatch you actually see. The makeup is pretty good, too. We're given a post-Canada apocalyptic vibe that comes through in the deliveries, pacing, and soundtrack that reminds me of the offbeat spiritual-horror work of Richard Stanley.

So: It's overzealous, but since the shots are framed well, the techniques are there in some form, and an atmosphere is achieved, some talent is clearly being displayed. I'm curious enough to keep an eye on his work. This is a first effort, and very clearly a work of passion. As such, it's inspirational and worth a look.

No comments: