In the crawl space under a murderer's house, the butchered female victims are trying to escape only to find out that they are stuck in limbo. Their journey through the house reveals their past.
I bought "Flowers" earlier this year but as per usual when it comes to movies, I usually only have time to watch screeners or review copies. But I knew that "Flowers" was a movie that I had to see, considering what a stir it has made in the underground. I especially wanted to see it before publishing our "Best of 2015"-list, just in case I was missing out on something fantastic.
Phil Stevens' feature is an experimental ride about six women who are stuck in the crawl space of a serial killer's house. Each and every one of them have to crawl through the decay and dirt of the house on their own, only to realize that they are already dead. What they witness during their attempts to escape is their own past - how they ended up in the hell that they are now stuck in.
For every positive, there seems to be an equally big negative to "Flowers". For the purpose of trying to stay optimistic, I'll start with the good parts. "Flowers" has great atmosphere. The set design might not be perfect, but its filth and funhouse-esque vibe makes for an intriguing location to follow our characters through. Because of this it succeeds in feeling like a fever dream that we're forced to get through. The effects are pretty decent and doesn't shy away too much, though there are times when you can tell how the effect was achieved (but that's nothing out of the ordinary for independent horror). Overall the effects are of fairly high standard compared to the crap you can find out there. The movie is also more or less without dialogue but our cast manages to bring out their emotions without words. A movie without a dialogue is not a bad thing in my opinion, as long as you can make the viewer forget that there is no dialogue. "Flowers" does this. Dialogue would have been pointless.
By all means, "Flowers" is a competent underground horror, but there's no denying that it has faults. The movie is very slow. Slow doesn't equal bad, of course. However, the slowness of "Flowers" is more about each and every scene being dragged out to its max. At the end of the movie it doesn't feel like it had enough content to justify the length, where much of the times was spent on the same scenes. It's a whole lot of crawling, eating, cutting up stitches and so on. It's a movie that probably could have managed to be more effective with a 60 minute runtime (or 70 at most).
The movie also has a lot of stuff that feels unnecessary. The plot about the six women stuck in limbo is good, but at the same time I don't think that the majority of scenes where we see the killer and what he did to them is needed at all. It might add some shallow shock values but it doesn't help the plot or atmosphere in the least. So to me it wasn't important to see the killer do various things to them. It could have been implied or shown in a more subtle manner.
Third complaint, and this is a minor offense, is the brown-ish color of the movie. The majority of independent, surreal, weird or experimental horror films that come our way have a similar filtering, and while I can see why it is used, it just makes the movie boring to look at after a while. The movie doesn't have bad cinematography, but its filtering certainly makes it feel a lot less impressive. Again, I get that this is a movie that is supposed to make you feel dirty, but I don't think it was intended to bore our eyes.
It feels more important to elaborate on the negatives, so this review probably comes off as very negative. That's not my intention, but it's good for you to know why I don't think "Flowers" is an amazing movie. However, it is good enough and I am excited to see the future work of Phil Stevens. It's something I would recommend to those who enjoy movies like "Where the Dogs Divide Her". An independent and surreal little feature from a director I suspect you will hear a lot more about in the future.