Bellflower is a film not dissimilar to other works about fandom such as Fanboys (2008) and perhaps most closely Free Enterprise (1998), which has a similar plot that follows two childhood friends and how ones involvement with a girl causes a rift between them. Of course, the major difference is that these other two are bittersweet comedies whereas Bellflower takes everything into seriously dark and disturbed mental space.
One finds it initially hard to relate to characters who use the phrase awesome with as much enthusiasm as Glodell and Tyler Dawson do. It is hard to get a handle on the characters all of them seem to exist in a bubble in terms of motivation (it is never clear why Jessie Wiseman sleeps with Vincent Grashaw, for instance). Nobody in the film ever seems to engage in any type of gainful employment. The nearest we come to this is when Evan Glodell is asked by Jessie Wiseman what he does when they first meet, to which his response is Im building a flamethrower.
Directorially, Evan Glodell has a serious mumblecore thing going. This is a film that wears its low-tech and grungy look as a badge of pride so much so that it even leaves in several scenes that are shot with dirt caked over the camera lens. Out of this, the film evinces an undeniable authenticity. The scenes with Evan Glodell and Jessie Wiseman on their road trip have a naturalistic, fresh-faced innocence to the romance.
The film absorbs us in the romance and the playing out of the two characters interactions. This goes well enough but the real strength of Bellflower comes during Evan Glodells descent into a disturbed mental space following the break-up. This culminates in a dream sequence that goes on for some ten minutes, involving a rampage of violence, murder and his driving through the streets in the Medusa car belching jets of flame out its massive exhaust ports. The rawness of some of the violence and psychology that goes on here is astonishing few other films dare to psychologically delve into such a dark space and give free reign to it on the screen.
There is a stunning point where [PLOT SPOILERS] Bellflower reverses the apocalyptic plot arc that it seems to be going on and reveals that the deaths and murder are all just a dream. The film then goes out on a stunning mundane coda where the two friends Evan Glodell and Tyler Dawson reunite and drive off into the desert in their super-charged custom car and this becomes a triumphant amelioration of hurt feelings. Here in voiceover, Glodell talks about how Lord Humongous, Mad Max 2s masked, muscle-builder villain, is their idol and aspiration in terms of badassery, of taking no shit and of ruling with attitude. It is a beautiful reversal, although one cannot help but think as we go out watching the two of them shooting guns and flamethrowers in the desert in triumph that it is an undeniably fucked-up form of climactic triumph. After all, there is a teensy part of one that thinks fantasies of murder and violence, regarding oneselves as the ultimate badasses, shooting guns and flamethrowers and promising to take no shit from anybody might not be too far removed from the thoughts that went through the minds of Eric Harris and Dylan Kleblold as they walked into Columbine high school in 1999 with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons and bombs made out of propane canisters.