Sci-Fi London Festival 2019: Black Flowers

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17th May 2019

After The Fall Out, It's All Black

There have been plenty of post apocalyptic movies, think way back to Mad Max or the more recent The Road. Black Flowers sits somewhere between the two, but then on its own as well.

Kate, Krista DeMille (“21st Century Demon Hunter”), her husband Sam, Ron Rogge (“Stranger Things (TV)”, “End Of Watch”) and her daughter Suzy, Andrea Sweeney-Blanco (“Derailed (Short)”, “Plutoed (Short)”), are wandering around this new post apocalyptic world.

We see nuclear bombs go off on day one, and then fast-forward some year and a half later. What exactly happened is never really told, but it seems everyone is a bit loopy, a-la Mad Max, and most are on a journey to “salvation”, a-la The Road.

Sam is in a bad way, he’s been shot, but the threesome are confident of finding medical supplies. Along their journey they meet Joe, Jesus Lloveras (“Day Release”, “Snails! (Short)”), who Suzy accidentally shoots, though he seems to heal a lot quicker than Sam.

Joe is on the way to a place he’s called Salvation, a bunker that no-one knows about, “how does he know about it, Mark? Erm, let’s not dwell on that”, where there are plenty of supplies.

Along the way they meet scavengers, cannibals, weird black flowers that have sprung up in the aftermath, park rangers on the verge of a breakdown and more.

The first thing to say is that it’s fabulous to see a post apocalyptic movie with a female lead and strong female support. However, writer and director Martin Gooch (“The Gatehouse”, “After Death”) doesn’t give us the female protagonist the movie deserves.

It’s great that Kate is ‘normal’, she’s not suddenly got superpowers or has learnt kung-fu in the last year and a half. But equally, she still hasn’t learnt how to hold a gun (though luckily the one she always carries doesn’t appear to have any recoil anyway), or be inconspicuous, or shoot someone when you are stood in front of them with a gun.

All of these clichés, and more, you can see in Black Flowers and they are particularly apparent as we get to the finale of the film and battle for survival. All we needed was one of the women to start running through the woods then inexplicably fall over and we’d have the full house.

At one hour and 48 minutes the film feels bloated and way too long. Some of the dialogue is stiff and awkward and a lot of it is downright bizarre, as are some of the actions of our characters.

When Joe turns out to be a rotten apple, kidnapping Suzy and drugging Kate, later Kate is still only too happy to let him back in their lives because: “he says sorry and tells her he loves her”. She even fights with her mom over it. In fact, throughout Black Flowers, Suzy is treated as if she’s a 10-year old girl, whereas Sweeney-Blanco is mid-20’s, it’s bizarre.

It’s a shame Black Flowers has these foibles as it is beautifully shot and I liked the first person point of view Gooch employs a few times throughout the film.

It just all feels a bit, well, weird, and that’s before I tell you about DJ Apocalypso, William Mark McCullough (“An L.A. Minute”, “Free State Of Jones”), a man who is throwing an end of the world party in a massive house with all the supplies anyone could need, yet the scavengers don’t seem to have taken over, despite none of the party goers seemingly being armed…Or “The Icon”, played by Martin Scorsese’s daughter Domenica Cameron-Scorsese (“Cape Fear”, “Almost Paris”), a woman heading to the top of a mountain with a staircase.

Black Flowers had its UK premiere (with Q&A) as part of Sci-Fi London (15-22 May).

Welcome to the future - two years from now after the nuclear apocalypse that changed life as we know it.

16th May 2019

Martin Gooch

Martin Gooch

Running Time:
1h 48min

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