By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
As “violence begets violence”, abuse often begets abuse. There are no other clearer messages delivered by this haunting, disturbing, and heartbreaking film that floored audiences at the 2014 Fantastic Fest and earned the film’s star Amy Everson an award for Best Actress in the New Wave category. Written and directed by Jason Banker, who co-wrote the film with Everson, Felt examines the wounded and scarred psyche of a woman tormented by an abusive past and her artistic attempts at coping with the trauma. The movie doesn’t offer answers, solutions, or cures to the problem, but does serve as a cautionary tale and a razor-sharp commentary on a problem which plagues so many people in the world, particularly women.
Amy (Everson) is an artist with a very avant garde style. She creates objects and costumes which allow her to adopt an empowering and more masculine alter-ego than her usually shy and timid self. Her work is rooted in some very serious psychological trauma. Amy is a victim of sexual abuse and through the sexual imagery expressed in her work can she use the torment of her past and feel empowered by it. Her bewildered friends have no clue how to deal with Amy’s eccentricities and sometimes bizarre behavior, but attempt to get her socializing with the opposite sex. Enter Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a seemingly sweet and well-meaning young man confused by and intrigued with Amy, but interested in a romantic relationship nevertheless. Their relationship begins with promise, but things devolve after Amy’s demons manifest in a frightening way.
Both Banker and Everson have made a powerful and remarkable film with Felt. Amy Everson delivers a performance that is both poignant and horrifying, but is at the same time, utterly bewitching. Banker, who also served as cinematographer, has created a movie that defies convention, and will certainly make an indelible impression on anyone who experiences it. In the attempt to capture lightning in a bottle, Bank and Everson compose their scenes with a certain organic and realistic quality, but blend it with the surreal and provocative nature of Amy’s artwork.
I actually missed the film at last year’s Fantastic Fest, but definitely feel that Amy Everson deserves the accolade bestowed upon her at the festival. The movie has been labeled as a rape-revenge film; however, I feel to limit the film’s description to these couple of words is doing it a severe injustice. This movie is not a simple and pedestrian tragedy/horror flick, it is an artistic expression of an even bigger tragedy that has victimized people for so long. Not for the faint of heart (or stomach), Felt not only tugs on the heart strings, but also delivers a shock wave that should rock even the most cynical and apathetic.