Written & Directed By: Dustin Mills
Indie cinema renegade Dustin Mills ("Easter Casket", "Puppet Monster Massacre") is no stranger to mad-cap, slap-stick, splatter films. In the past few years though, the esteemed Mr. Mills has been exploring envelope pushing, exploitation/art house cinema with his Crumpleshack Pictures arm, which produced last year's brilliant "Her Name Was Torment". With his most recent CS film, "Applecart", Mills has produced his most ambitious and far reaching project to date.
Utilizing a silent format, and exceptional use of black and white cinematography, reminiscent of Georges Franju, Mills manages to put together a thought provoking, morality tale, of related segments, that eschews the normal pretense usually associated with "art" films. "Applecart", aesthetically, features some truly breathtaking shots and angles that are truly beautiful to behold.
At it's core, "Applecart" is grounded in themes of love and innocence lost, hence the apples featured in every segment (the apple of Eden), and the expressionless masks worn by all of the performers. Mills was definitely asking a lot of his talented cast (Allison Egan, Haley Madison, Dave Parker, Joni Durian, Brandon Salkil, Erin Ryan & Josh Miller), in that their performances are reduced to pantomimic gestures, with absolutely no facial expressions involved, Egan, in particular, is no stranger to this, having put in a turn in "Her Name Was Torment" that ranks up there with Karloff in "Frankenstein". And it's this concept that makes this such a crazy undertaking for any director, indie or studio. Simply put--this is NOT how you make movies!!! But, and this is a testament to Mills' skill as a filmmaker, it works to brilliant effect here.
At times, "Applecart" is: humorous, disturbing, emotionally wrought, and jarring, as we, the viewers, are taken on a journey with each part, featuring: incestuous longing, multiple murder/suicide, elder abuse, zealot parenting, and misplaced love. And every line of "anti-dialogue" contains a subtext that just permeates the screen, this, friends, is a film that absolutely has a morality message, and you'll undoubtedly "get it", because despite making a film that is positively dripping with subtext, at no point do you feel that Mills is dumbing down his art for the masses. This is why this film is so amazing, it's not "art for the sake of art", and you never get the feeling that the filmmaker is talking down to you, which is the downfall of most films in this little niche.
In summation, and in the interest of trying to remain "spoiler free", "Applecart" is an important film. Perhaps the most important in Mills' body of work, with his incredible cast of "Crumpleshack regulars", he has created a literal masterpiece, that in both scope and vision, is almost a perfect example of art done right. Do yourself a favor, see "Applecart", see it more than once, and wallow in the awesome. Films like this don't come along often, so savor it.
--Scream King Tom