Saturday, 1 January 2022

Shudder Saturday: Ladyworld (2018)

I was really hoping to start 2022 with a great movie. Well that didn't work out. Nope, not at all.

Although it sometimes depends on the mood I am in, I am always up for a horror or drama that tries to do something a bit different. I am especially keen to try and avoid pigeonholing movies into any one genre, something that saves me from the anger and disappointment I see people experience when something doesn't go along with certain standards that they themselves have imposed upon it. 

That's my way of saying that I was open to the idea of Ladyworld. I read the brief plot summary - a number of teenage girls become trapped after some mystery act of nature, they then start to unravel and turn on one another as their resources dwindle - and I figured that I might enjoy it. It may fit in some horror elements, it may just be a drama, it had the potential to showcase some great young actors and be a bit different from hundreds of other horror movies I have seen.

Sadly, the biggest difference this movie has from many other movies is how absolutely terrible it is. I ended 2021/started 2022 with one of the worst movies I saw/will see that year, which really isn't how I wanted things to go.

I'm going to blame director Amanda Kramer, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Benjamin Shearn (although it feels like a film with a lot of improvisation between people who don't have enough experience in improv). At the most basic level, this is a gender-flipped riff on Lord Of The Flies, bringing the female experience to the material, but it does absolutely nothing of worth with the premise. Characters aren't developed well, dialogue is painfully bad at times, and the most interesting element, a potential male threat in their midst who attacks when individuals are away from the group, is so badly mishandled that it is too often forgotten while the young women go back to arguing with one another (which may well be a point being made, but it's still not one that is well done).

The cast generally don't seem up to the task of carrying the movie, with three of the main players providing varying degrees of irritation. Ariela Barer, Annalise Basso, and Ryan Simpkins are left out to dry by Kramer, who I suspect could have achieved much better results if she'd managed to create a more focused storyline. Maya Hawke and Tatsumi Romano barely manage to rise above the material, but they do enough to warrant being mentioned here as the only two positives I can think of.

As for the ear-damaging score from Callie Ryan, obviously crafted to create an atmosphere of growing tension, insanity, and a sense of inescapable confinement, I would have much preferred to watch the film with that bizzare "pen pineapple apple pen" song from a few years ago playing alongside the visuals.

Not even visually interesting enough to make it worth your time, there's almost nothing here to help any viewer want to watch the whole thing. A mess, and one that obviously thinks it is being artistically impressive and thought-provoking. I won't be rushing to seek out anything else made by Kramer.


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