Director Jason Banker has surpassed my expectations once again with his latest film, Felt. I am a huge Jason Banker fan which is apparent in my review for his first feature film, Toad Road. Banker has an uncanny knack for creating films that are experimental and depressing in nature- very emo, if you will. What I value most about his work is how raw and authentic the storytelling is. In particular, Felt has beautiful and melancholy lyrical language in the form of voice-over by our anguished, abused, and confused main actress.
Amy is a complex character. She is an artist of sorts who creates art using recycled children’s toys which seem to mimic Amy’s feelings of turmoil, as if her emotions are stunted due to her past of emotional and physical abuse. She also makes flesh-colored bodysuit costumes featuring male genitalia and scarecrow faces on her female form, portraying an identity crisis stemming from her past experiences with chauvinistic and demeaning men. The first half of the film feels almost “documentary” like, filled with clips of Amy in her bizarre costumes intermingled with scenes of her on the disappointing dating scene, until she meets Kenny who is patient, kind, and sensitive to Amy’s eccentricities.
Does this sound more like a love story than a horror film? Well, maybe. A lot of viewers can’t relate to Banker’s filmmaking style, which is understandable especially since his films are labeled horror films. This is where people get upset. In a traditional sense, it is not a horror film yet it explores multiple horror elements more closely related to psychological dramas. Banker digs below the surface, dredging up feeling of despair which can be much more horrific than the usual slaughterfest we normally see in horror films.
Location seems to be important to Banker, preferring mostly organic scenery found in nature with natural lighting and interior locations that are uninterrupted by production elements- feeling very similar to Antichrist by Lars Von Trier and Red White & Blue by Simon Rumley. Felt sometimes feels aimless with impromptu scenes and conversations amongst characters, but this aids to the authenticity of the characters. I appreciate the “in the moment” type filmmaking focusing on character development rather than a direct story line.
Here is where the horror comes in: Amy fantasizes about killing men. But it’s just talk… right? It may be a little too late as far as the horror genre is concerned, but I find the slow buildup delicious and satisfying, culminating in a fucked-up ending beyond rational human understanding. Felt truly IS a horror film, fixated on themes of depression, sex, and dissociation of self. For Banker, the solution is always death and drugs.
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