It’s tough to like “Bellflower,” which opens Friday. This ultra-indie (as in, shot by a guy and his friends for essentially no money) is visceral, violent and more than a little trippy. The pounding, intense film is the story of Woodrow (played by writer-director-producer-editor Evan Glodell), a mild-mannered Midwesterner living in L.A. with his friend Aiden (Tyler Dawson). Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) at a bar’s bug-eating competition, and what starts out as a meet-cute romantic comedy ends up being a chaotic ride that touches on friendship, betrayal and the nature of masculinity. And the ride takes place in a “Mad Max”-inspired, custom-built car named Mother Medusa.
At first, Glodell’s goals for the movie were small. “I thought it would be cool if there was one copy at Blockbuster, or if it was out at Netflix. I remember saying to my friends, ‘If we make the movie and it turns out good, some young couple would watch it, and they’d be going through a tough part [of their relationship]. And [after seeing it] they’d realize they should stop fighting.’”
In the film, Woodrow and Aiden have a fixation with post-apocalyptic living that dances on the line that separates “being prepared” with “kind of creepy.” They develop their own weapons, including a flamethrower, and outfit a 1972 Buick Skylark so that it’s as loud as thunder and is so heavily armed that the Second Amendment itself gets nervous.
Glodell, a former engineering student, was behind all the weaponry — none of which is done with CGI. “If people didn’t know us, they might think we’re all crazy,” he says. “But I have a very good understanding of basic physics.”
While he admits it was fun to spend entire days blowing stuff up with his buddy, “the film is first. We could do that stuff on our own time. All of us wanted to make sure everything was real. It started with the cricket-eating contest and spread out to everything in the movie.”
And that meant real risk. Though Glodell ensured safety, he would push the edges. “When you’re there, you’re all ‘How do you get the coolest shot?’ The camera’s here and it’s going to be a little iffy, but it’s going to be the coolest shot.”Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW; $8-$11; 202-452-7672. (Metro Center)