LADYWORLD *** USA 2018 Dir: Amanda Kramer. 93 mins
The feature debut for director Amanda Kramer – co-writing with Benjamin Shearn – captures an off-camera, catastrophic event during its opening title sequence via the use of sound effects. Eight teenage girls on a birthday party sleepover suffer the impact of what appears to be a devastating earthquake. Trapped in the house of the party’s host, Eden (Atheena Frizzell), they’re now thrust into an escalating situation where self-aggrandising Piper (Annalise Basso) fights for leadership duties against the seemingly more balanced Olivia (Ariela Barer). Existing tensions and distrust are amplified by the claustrophobic situation as discontent rises (“This is just as oppressive as school…”), paranoia runs rampant, the sound of police helicopters and aftershocks unnerves and a threatening male character appears to be lurking in the house.
A distaff LORD OF THE FLIES for our paranoid times – made more relevant in 2020 when at least a quarter of the world are effectively housebound – this presents a vivid portrait of an evolving group dynamic, as strengths and weaknesses are highlighted, characters experiment with their own self-image and Callie Ryan’s inventive, unusual score adds to the sustained dread. It’s an ambitious, bold and well-acted microcosm of the apocalypse, though the symbolism tends to be heavy handed, and you can’t help feeling that certain old episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE covered similar territory in a third of the time. The end note is appropriately ambiguous and ominous as the characters get their first look outside the building in which we have all been confined for the duration.
Review by Steven West
LADYWORLD is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray at: