Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Rose Glass.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Dave Franco, Ed Harris.
Thriller, US, 101 minutes.


Released in cinemas in the UK on 19th April by Lionsgate.


Reviewed as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2024



After making a real impact with her debut feature SAINT MAUDE, Rose Glass returns with her second feature. Fans of that particular film, myself included, rewarding it my film of the year for this site back in 2020 after its Glasgow FrightFest screening, will no doubt be keen to see how Glass would follow up that nightmarish study of a woman spinning out of control with her belief in God. Glass doubles down here with this tale of two women spinning out of control this with the catalysts this time being love, body building, steroids and guns.


Turning her lens stateside, Glass’s tale, co-written with Weronika Tofilska, takes place in a small desert town where we find Kristen Stewart’s Lou working in a gym. Keeping to herself among the hulking muscle-bound men pumping iron, Lou is spellbound by the arrival of Jackie, a female drifter hitching her way across the country to Las Vegas to compete in a body building competition. The two women act upon their immediate attraction but complications with Lou’s estranged father Lou Sr, a gun range owner also running guns illegally, and her sleazy brother-in-law JJ, lead the lovestruck couple down a dangerous path of murder and obsession that takes on a truly nightmarish edge.


Fans of SAINT MAUDE will be happy to see Glass go even further with her examination of female characters under stress expanding even further here in a daring new direction. There are similarities and echoes with her previous film; troubled history, masochism, and hallucinatory visuals, but they are expanded upon in such a manner that it never feels like Glass is playing just the hits for an appreciative crowd. The increase in budget, and added star power of Kristen Stewart, is no doubt a helping hand in realising the director's vision but it feels like she is really swinging for the fences here that the results are often exhilarating.


Veins pop out across biceps in a fashion reminiscent of body horror, the sounds of strain and will creeping thickly across the soundtrack when anger and passion collide resulting in scenes of shocking carnage that at once seem to come out of nowhere and at the same time predestined due to the characters shady natures. At times the film seems reminiscent of the erotic thrillers of the 80’s and 90’s crossed with the same decade’s indie-thrillers that carried a noir edge. Here however the the ingredients that made those films have been mixed in with something else that make this a unique work of art, particularly in today's cinema screens.


This is pulse pounding, anxiety inducing stuff. Stewart proves herself as one of the most interesting actors out there now proving her good taste in choosing projects after her memorable turn in CRIMES OF THE FUTURE while her co-star Katy O’Brian as Jackie makes even more of an impression with her imposing physique and smartly nuanced performance of a complicated character. As JJ, Dave Franco gives a skin crawling performance of a hateful figure while Ed Harris as Stewart’s psychotic father is as wryly funny as he is psychopathic.


With an ending that is sure to divide audiences it also feels reminiscent of Julia Ducournau’s TITANE, both films daring to explore the female form and mind in punishing new ways that feel transgressive and often surreal. Most of all this is supremely entertaining, fun and exciting, feeling like the wildest ride you could take in a cinema for quite some time.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans