July 31, 2018

FLORA: Fearsome Fungus

Starring Teresa Marie Doran, Dan Lin, Sari Mercer, Mile G. Jackson, Caleb Noel. Directed by Sasha Louis Vukovic. (2017/100 min). 


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😼

Conceptually-intriguing and aesthetically pleasing, Flora begins as a superlative example of smart sci-fi-horror on a limited budget. Unfortunately, it is ultimately undone by an erratic pace, plot inconsistencies, flat characters and glaring blunders in its own logic.

A shame, really, because the film grabs the viewer right away with an ominous series of Morse Code messages before establishing its setting with a vintage antique automobile speeding through a vividly-green forest. But the car isn't an antique...it's a wonderfully understated way of establishing the story actually takes place in 1929, where a group of young botanists rush to hook-up with their professor for an expedition. However, when they arrive at the campsite, the professor is missing and all their supplies have been destroyed.

They soon notice there's no animal life anywhere in the area, not even bugs. Upon further investigation, they learn the fate of the professor and the families of a dilapidated mill town: All were infected by an airborne, pollen-like fungus, with fatal results. When some of the botanists begin to display symptoms of being similarly infected, they realize they must try and escape back to civilization on foot - with almost no food - using gas masks and makeshift hazmat suits. It's a perilous trek that might take a week.

Where Rudy goes, so does his Beastie Boys collection.
A week? Wait a minute, didn't these kids drive into the woods before canoeing to their camp in a single day? Unless I blinked and missed something, why not just get back in their canoes, pile into the car and be back in town before sundown?

Once it starts playing fast and loose with it's own scenario, Flora quickly begins to unravel. Even after it's established that the fungus is airborne and able to enter the body through the lungs and skin, these guys are repeatedly taking off their gas masks throughout the film. Some characters get sick, some don't. Lack of food is an issue, then suddenly it isn't. Those who get infected don't even display the same symptoms and one character more-or-less disappears late in the film without explanation. And how exactly did villagers from a mining town in the middle of nowhere manage to press a vinyl record containing a Morse Code message?

"Guys...do you hear banjos?"
Inconsistent pacing simply exacerbates the movie's many plot discrepancies. Numerous dull scenes - mostly bickering characters - seem to go on forever, allowing the viewer way too much time to think about the lapses in logic. And speaking of characters, with the exception of Ora (Teresa Marie Doran) and Avis (Sari Mercer), they're mostly uninteresting, or in the case of Charles (Caleb Noel), really obnoxious.

Everything comes to an unsatisfying conclusion that's intended to be ambiguous, but ends up being frustratingly anti-climactic. The film fails to engage us enough to care about the characters or their predicament, aggravated by all the reckless story holes. Flora is technically well made and looks great - even picturesque, at times - but is ultimately a waste of a great premise.

FEATURETTE - "Behind the Scenes" (mostly a promo, along with a few bloopers)

No comments: