BLACK FLOWERS / CERT:TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MARTIN GOOCH / STARRING: KRISTA DEMILLE, ANDREA SWEENEY-BLANCO, JESÚS LLOVERAS, WILLIAM MARK MCCULLOUGH / RELEASE DATE: TBC
The balloon goes up. The bomb is dropped. The world is plunged into nuclear madness. Two years after the apocalypse Kate (DeMille), her husband Sam (Ron Roggé) and daughter Suzy (Sweeney-Blanco) are struggling to survive in a world now filled with barbarians, cannibals, weirdos, and cultists. They meet up with Joe (Lloveras), a morally-dubious loner who tells them about a secret bunker full of food, medicine, and salvation. A grim situation soon gets even worse and Kate finds herself adrift in a world of predators and desperate survivalists and a strange new strain of black flowers, which possess the power to kill and heal.
Black Flowers confounds its low budget and the slightly bitty and episodic nature of its narrative to deliver a striking and occasionally disturbing post-nuclear apocalypse scenario. At the beginning of the film, our ‘hero family’ are enjoying an idyllic holiday relaxing in a swimming pool with barely a care in the world; a mushroom cloud blossoms on the horizon but the carefree holiday is frozen in Kate’s memory and it’s a moment she holds on to and returns to in her subconscious as her world continues to fall apart long after the end of the world itself. It’s just as well she has something pleasant to remember as the future doesn’t look too rosy and there’s precious little cause for optimism in the blasted, dead land in which she finds herself. Battling to find both the shelter and her daughter who has been taken in by Joe’s frankly unlikely charms, Kate encounters a strange (if rather unconvincing) cult heading to the top of a nearby mountain; a desperate survivor who just wants the torment to end and, perhaps most interestingly, a hedonistic settlement led by the charismatic DJ Apocalypso (McCullogh), who are partying away its supplies and happy to embrace ‘the end’ when it finally arrives.
Black Flowers delivers some impressive visuals - the cinematography is quite cinematic in places, giving the film a real sense of scale (one scene set in a devastated city is especially eerie) - which go some way to offsetting some of the problems inherent in the film’s slightly sloppy screenplay and some slightly ramshackle acting. Kate is a commendably determined female lead but DeMille’s performance is occasionally a little eccentric, her attempts at portraying a woman pushed to extremes and beyond sometimes veering into the unintentionally comical as she grimaces, gurns, and contorts herself to the point that she seems to misunderstand the text and deliver a performance intended for an entirely different movie.
Misgivings and shortcomings aside, Black Flowers is possessed of a lilting, haunting beauty and in places it’s a fearsomely accomplished and visually arresting movie from a writer/director who clearly understands the form of the post-apocalyptic genre and has brought a convincing, disquieting and largely utterly convincing end-of-the-world scenario to the screen on a fraction of the funds available to journeyman wham-bam directors like Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich.