“Applecart” (2015) Review by Mark Krawczyk

 

Applecart 2015 poster

One of the advantages Indie horror filmmakers have is they are not under any restraints as to what they can create. They can make whatever film they want to make. They can ignore any boundaries that many mainstream pictures are held to. The problem is, many indie horror filmmakers try to make something that appeals to the masses with the hope of getting distribution. Dustin Wade Mills’ latest picture “Applecart” throws a big middle finger to the idea of making something that is widely acceptable to all. Instead, he chose to make a piece of art and he does it well.

 

“Applecart” is a black and white anthology film of a different sort. We are presented with a series of short stories that cover topics ranging from perverted fathers, to abusive religious parents, to having a crush on a fellow coworker.  There is an apple to be found in each of the stories, which explains the title of “Applecart”. All of these stories are told without a word of dialogue spoken. While viewing this film I was reminded of the South Korean film, Moebius, which is another disturbing film without dialogue. It is filled with metaphor and subtext but yet not a word is spoken.  A lack of dialogue forces the viewer to stay engaged, to fixate on everything that is happening in the scene so they know what is going on.

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The film is not completely devoid of sound. There is music and a very effective use of audience noise. It is as if you are sitting in an audience at a dinner theater watching “Applecart”. It is Dustin’s use of this audience noise that elevates each scene but not in the way you may expect. You get cheering where you would not expect an audience to cheer and booing and hissing in the same manner. He uses the audiences reaction as a metaphor for society. It is not meant to be a reflection of how the viewer may feel about the scene but actually the exact opposite. All of the elements in “Applecart” are used as tools to make the audience feel uncomfortable and disturbed and that is not a bad thing.

Applecart 2015

Another interesting element in Applecart is the use of masks. All of the actors wear masks during the movie. This serves a dual purpose. In respect to the filmmaking process, it allows Dustin to reuse his very talented performers across multiple stories. More importantly, by removing the identity of the actors, it makes the audience realize that the people on screen could be anyone, even themselves.  The performers Dustin chose for the film do an excellent job of acting with their eyes. You can still feel their anger, sadness, and joy.

There is a fair amount of graphic nudity used in the film which could be found offensive by some. I believe the nudity is not there to entertain or titillate but rather to make the viewer feel uneasy. It is another element effectively used by the director to get a specific reaction from the audience and it succeeds.

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Some of the most memorable horror films are the ones that unsettle the audience. “Applecart” definitely falls into this category. It is not a piece of entertainment but rather a disturbing piece of art. Art is always subject to interpretation. There are many pieces of art out there that are considered vulgar or offensive at first glance, but those who sit and pay attention can find meaning in what is presented and realize that the artist was going for more than just shock value. Dustin Wade Mills’ Applecart is art and one of his best pieces of work to date.  It was made to stimulate the part of the brain that most Hollywood films fail to touch. Yes, some of the visuals are shocking but there is more to it than that. Applecart is not going to appeal to everyone but it was not meant to do so.

“Applecart” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray at Dustin Wade Mills’ website which you can find here: http://dmp.storenvy.com/products/10805052-applecart-dvd

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