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VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, the first feature directed by
Lindsay Denniberg, is not made for the masses; it’s a completely bizarre,
surrealistic art-house film that’s not quite comparable to anything, except perhaps Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 horror phantasmagoria
VIDEO DIARY, making its New York premiere this Saturday at
92YTribeca (with Denniberg and her cast in attendance), opens with the tale of the
mythological she-demon Lilith, told through myriad images set in a dreamlike
world full of supersaturated colors, television static and strange
illumination, with masks and nudity galore. Lilith creates an immortal, inhuman
race of succubi known as Lillins who must have sex once a month in order to
live, or else they menstruate to death; consequently, their conquests die
Louise (Priscilla McEver) works at a video store, and is an
average young woman—that is, despite her deadpan humor, 1980s aesthetic and
being descended from a demon. For the past 100 years, she has been feeding off
unsuspecting random men she lures into her body-part-littered lair. All is fine
and well in the life of our succubus protagonist until she encounters the
reincarnation of her first and one true love, whom she already inadvertently
murdered the first time around in the 1920s. We delve into Louise’s past, told
with the help of films like PANDORA’S BOX (we learn she took her name from
silent actress Louise Brooks), and witness her past heartache and the struggles
that come with being a succubus. Love hits full-force once again, and Louise is
torn between her animalistic, murderous sexual desires and the will to preserve
her lover’s life.
After the opening sequence, VIDEO DIARY becomes slightly
more conventional in its plot, though Denniberg maintains the insane visuals
consistently throughout the film. It’s a colorful cocktail of homages to movies
of the past: classic horror in particular, but also German Expressionist and
French New Wave films, as well as many other genres. (Also sprinkled throughout
are clips from vintage fright films in the public domain, such as CARNIVAL OF
SOULS, NOSFERATU and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.) In addition, the characters
constantly don garb such as DAY OF THE DEAD, CANNIBAL FEROX and DOLLS T-shirts,
and many other titles are referenced via movie posters in Louise’s bedroom and
video cases lying around her store. VIDEO DIARY is a love letter to cinema of
the past, made by film buffs for fellow film buffs.
VIDEO DIARY is a refreshing and unusual film with an
original premise, developed through a solid script packed with witty dialogue.
The soundtrack is largely composed of music reminiscent of female-fronted punk
bands of the 1980s, which is always welcome. Occasionally, a weak line delivery
or poor practical effect takes us slightly out of the film, but the evident
energy and enthusiasm put into making it largely compensates for any such
moments. VIDEO DIARY is also interspersed with a pleasant amount of quirky
humor, reminding us that the filmmakers weren’t taking themselves overly
seriously. The high stylization often works in its favor and helps boost the
production value the movie, which was presumably made for a shoestring budget.
VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is certainly worth watching for
fans of the experimental. You can rest assured you won’t see anything else
quite like it.
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