Updated: Jun 10, 2019
It’s always intriguing to see the different ways film manifests itself. There is the family friendly CG wonders that Pixar creates. There is also the hand painted adorable films with powerful messages that Studio Ghibli has in its library. With filmmakers one could look at the slow descent into madness that Darren Aronofsky presents with films such as “Black Swan” or “mother!” or Ana Lily Amirpour and her too-cool-for-school tone that rears its gorgeous head in “The Bad Batch” and “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.”
Then we have the newcomers.
Filmmakers that have no imprint on the film world and their first step is as big or as small as the masses allow them to be. Luckily with her debut directorial effort “Braid,” Mitzi Peirone has left a medium sized footprint.
Braid focuses on two friends, Petula and Tilda, who try to rob their childhood friend Daphne in order to pay off a debt they owe to a drug lord. Daphne just so happens to be a psychotic mess, her mind existing in the realm of a childhood game that the three played together as children. Will Petula and Tilda be able to survive the game and get the money? Or will fate put leave them much worse off?
“Braid” can best be described as a psychological, psychedelic thriller. The use of color in the film, from neon lights to bright body paint, the latter of which gave the film one particularly gripping scene. The use of blood in cinema isn’t sparse like it used to be and unfortunately this film is no different. However, the loss of implied horror is sadistically replaced by pure terror thanks to the score and emotion that the three leads pump out.
Daphne is pleasantly unhinged and Petula and Tilda are terrified of her. While it exemplifies terror for the sake of the movie, it is near impossible to care about any of the characters. The leads do a great job in their roles but they all have such unredeeming qualities that whenever the film tries to throw something at the audience about any of them, it goes to the wayside. This is clear from the beginning of the film when Petula and Tilda have to escape their base of operations and board a train to get to Daphne’s house. The audience is supposed to be invested in their plight, but they’re such assholes that it’s hard to care about them. As the film goes on it is becomes more evident that even though the duo doesn’t particularly deserve what is happening to them, their characters have been so hard to get invested into that it doesn’t really matter. The same goes for Daphne. At first she is seen as the antagonist, then as a somewhat sympathetic character, then someone who I just did not care about.
But that’s okay.
What the film lacks in character building, it more than makes up for with its atmosphere. This film has a truly creepy feel to it. It is equivalent to a bloody child-like fever dream. With the rules that the film sets from the start it is clear that there is a structure to this world. To said effect there is nothing better than seeing that world get turned upside down, as “Braid” flips over and effectively wigs out on itself and the audience. There are things that don’t make a lick of sense on the characters’ part, especially with one scene in particular involving PCP. Don’t worry, you will be just as confused and frustrated when you see it. But that statement can be said about a lot of the movie. It is a hellscape. Even if it doesn’t make sense, it’s still fun to watch—and that’s what a movie is supposed to be.
Even during the times where “Braid” was difficult to follow,” especially in its last 20 minutes, I was still tripped out and went to bed feeling rather uncomfortable. It is by no means a great film, but it is decent and I’d definitely watch it a few more times this year.