Natalie Bible’s latest film Windsor Drive follows the story of River Miller, a mentally unstable actor who is haunted by the death of his girlfriend, Jordana. Unable to stay in those surroundings, he moves in with two ‘vampy hipsters’ to try and escape the visions and voices that still haunt him. It becomes clear that there’s something very weird about his new house mates, and as he tries to pursue his acting career, everything just starts to fall apart around him again.
In all honesty, I can safely say I’m not quite sure what happened for the past 82minutes, but I found myself strangely transfixed by this film. It’s incredibly weird and obscurer, but despite this, I found myself hooked just on the premise of what was actually happening. The film begins by setting you up for normality, easing you into the situation gently, before shaking everything up and throwing your expectations on their head. Usually, I like to go for films that have a strong story that keeps me hooked, but with Windsor Drive, it wasn’t the story that compelled me to carry on watching. It was the desire for closure, and to understand what the film was actually about. Quite a few times, I jotted down in my notes that I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the film, but the strange allure of the visuals, characters and music really drew me into it. Towards the end, things start to become a little clearer but the joy of this film is just how strange and ‘off’ it is, rather than giving you the full picture. I was constantly trying to guess what was going to happen, and I got it wrong every time. Sometimes, it’s nice to have your preconceptions challenged. Trust me, if you wanted something weird to watch, then this film should be on high priority.
River Miller, main ‘protagonist’, if you will, wasn’t a particularly likeable character, but he has many interesting dimensions to his character, making him an intriguing story to follow. Tommy O’Reilly does a great performance here, making River seem both insane, and really unsettling at times, yet also bringing a slight element of humanity to a character who is desperately trying to break into the ruthless Hollywood scene. There were times that watching him made me feel slightly uncomfortable, as the unpredictability of his character meant that you never quite knew how he was going to act. I personally really enjoyed that aspect. Anna Biani and Kyan DuBois were equally as mesmerising as River’s ‘flatmates’, Wulfric and Ivy. Every scene with these two in felt incredibly surreal, as if you weren’t quite sure what they were doing, or if they’re even there. Their behaviour and motives are part of the intrigue – everything they do seems calculated, but at the same time, weirdly carefree and airy. The only character that actually felt normal was June, an assistant casting director, who’s busy life and demanding boss show a cruel truth behind the Hollywood studio bigwigs. Strangely enough, she was the only character who got any sympathy from me, which was a refreshing change from all the craziness.
As far as directing goes, I think that’s what holds the film together and makes it incredibly interesting. The premise of the film is kind of mundane, and has been done a fair few times, yet the style behind the film is what helps separate it from the rest. It’s disjointed, often repeating itself and replaying events in different motions, much like the mind of River, who can’t seem to make sense of anything that’s going on around him. I thought this was a really great direction to go in. There’s a heavy use of reverse footage as well, often joining two repeating sections together, as though it’s playing over and over again in someone’s mind. The scenes are often not done in chronological order, and it’s chaotic, disjointed and mesmerising at the same time. There’s some interesting focus points with the camera work as well, and through some creative lighting, it helps set the film’s obscurer tone and story.
One thing I really enjoyed was the film’s soundtrack, which I found to help set the mood of the film rather well. There’s a focus on songs, rather than ambient music, and as a creative choice, I thought it really brought another element of weirdness to the film. A couple of pieces integrated a choral element, which was both sinister yet calming at the same time – a fitting piece which helps describe the whole tone of the film. I suppose the film could come across a little bit like a music video at times, but I personally didn’t mind. Sometimes the music speaks louder than words, right? I also found the foley overdubs to be quite interesting, as they were very prominent in some parts. I’m guessing that was a creative decision for certain scenes, although that could be me being sensitive. I like to think it was the former, as it really made me take notice during some parts of the film.
Overall, Windsor Drive isn’t a film I can say I enjoyed, because I don’t feel like it’s a film you can enjoy, just for watching’s sake. It’s uncomfortable, weird and leaves you wondering what is actually going on. Yet, that is what makes the film so good. I can’t recall the last time a film made me that intrigued to find out what was going to happen The direction and camera work were really spot on – creative and interesting, far from the usual boring and static shots. It’s here where the film really shines, so if you want a film to sit back and enjoy without putting any thought into it, then maybe this isn’t the one for you. I personally feel like I need to watch it again to try and see if the film’s ending make more sense of the film’s beginning. Or, to see if I can put together a chronological sequence of events now that I’ve seen the whole thing through. I’m probably thinking to much into it, but that’s what this film leaves you with. Not a warm fuzzy feeling of completion, but a cold blur of confusion as you sit back and ponder what just happened. And a film that’s gets you thinking is always good in my book.
Windsor Drive makes its way to DVD 9/29 from Indican Pictures.