The Oregonian

Oct 29 - Nov 12, 2011

(Calvin Lee Reeder, Washington, 81 min)

The Oregonian’s protagonist, a woman waking up from a car crash on a deserted road, has an important journey ahead of her. Using surrealism, 70s shock horror cinema and Throbbing Gristle’s mandate, “entertainment through pain,” as a starting point, director Calvin Lee Reeder has made a road trip film that deprives its audience of every conventional expectation in a movie-going experience. The Oregonian re-imagines our dreary, forested Northwest landscape as a purgatory from an old-time religion, complete with its own symbolism, a cast of arch-angels and at least 59 levels of hell.

Our hero (played by Lindsay Pulsipher), injured from her crash, ventures along an eerily abandoned road in search of help. Her paranoia mounts as she encounters stranger and stranger characters: another auto accident victim in a frog costume, a taciturn and breakfast-obsessed truck driver, hippies and musicians–all of whom provide little help and lack essential characteristics to be considered fellow humans. Flashbacks reveal a bucolic farm life she left after a bitter end to a relationship. As more is revealed, the less we trust our own interpretation of events and the sanity of our protagonist.

This is a film that assaults the senses with a screeching sound design, coarse, violent imagery and just plain freakiness. But below and above the shock value, it taps into something vital and raw. For those viewers who can appreciate the utter absurdity of human existence, the film offers an uncanny humor (a la Lynch, Cronenberg, Jodorowsky). As the Oregonian is finally released from her strange journey, we are offered no explanations or conclusions, but we share with her a deep feeling of transformation as if re-birthed after discarding a decayed reptilian skin.


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