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by Steve Dollar
This year"s SXSW Film Festival had not even officially begun before it delivered one of those experiences that justifies the entire trip to Austin, TX-where the effort to see the most amazing movies no one"s ever heard of runs headlong into what amounts to spring break for the independent film (and music and interactive) industry. It was near the end of a pre-fest preview screening of a movie called Bellflower. Terrible things, whose inevitable arrival in the story"s arc had been suggested in its opening moments, were coming to pass. Once empathetic characters were turning into monsters. The edge of bat-shit crazy that had felt so exciting had tipped into psychosis. A heavy-set dude sitting next to me at the world-famous Alamo Drafthouse seemed to have been enjoying himself until now. Then he began muttering under his breath: "Fuck. what the fuck. fuck it!" And, boom: He was outta there, reiterating his commentary at louder volume en route through the exit.
I"d heard Bellflower, which premiered at Sundance in January, was polarizing-always a bonus, particularly in a festival film. But the angry departure begged a question: If you sat through everything else that happened in the last hour, why waltz in the final 15 minutes?