|release date||January 17 2012|
|starring||Lindsay Pulsipher, Robert Longstreet, Tipper Newton, Barlow Jacobs, Matt Olsen|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
It’s rare to see a movie as intentionally abrasive as The Oregonian. The soundtrack hammers at your senses with migraine-inducing screeches, tinny music, and the overloud garble of a half-tuned radio. (At the Sundance Film Festival screening I attended, several members of the audience were forced to repeatedly plug their ears.) With no narrative to speak of, the movie is virtually impossible to connect with. It’s like an Alzheimer’s sufferer took over story hour. A woman (Lindsay Pulsipher) wakes up after a car crash, wanders the back roads of Oregon for 81 minutes, and encounters a bunch of random shit. The End. The screenplay must have been all of one paragraph long.
Having seen (and loved) writer/director Calvin Lee Reeder’s trippy short film Little Farm, I felt like I knew what to expect going into his first full-length feature. Like The Oregonian, Little Farm’s “story” was skeletal, to say the least––Sister’s head explodes after incestuous relationship with Brother at their Uncle’s goat farm–– but the 8 minute short had a surreal, darkly funny vibe. I assumed The Oregonian would be a full length movie that shared the same vibe, except with a, you know, plot. I suppose that Reeder introduces what you’d call “characters”––a snaggly-toothed old woman in a red coat, a bearded van driver, some person dressed in a green, googly-eyed furry costume––but there aren’t any character relationships. These random folks just appear out of nowhere, scare the living shit out of the woman, and then vanish. The whole movie is like a nightmare sequence from a really, really bad David Lynch movie.
Now I’m worried that the above description makes The Oregonian sound more intriguing than it actually is. There’s so little substance to be found here, it makes for a difficult movie to discuss at length. The only aspect of importance is the lingering emotional impact. And the lingering emotion is annoyance. The biggest problem with The Oregonian is that Reeder seems to have made a film with the express purpose of frustrating his audience. It leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. Not due to content that’s especially violent or abhorrent, but because making an annoying movie appears to have been Reeder’s sole intention.