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The Blue Rose Is a Surrealist Lynchian Nightmare

Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films

Variety is the spice of life. Sure, I like straightforward horror movies like creature features and possession films as much as anyone, but occasionally I want something a bit weirder. I sometimes find myself craving a trip to the outer fringes of the genre, so when I first heard about The Blue Rose, I was instantly intrigued. The movie was pitched to me as a “genre-bending surrealist noir” that fans of David Lynch would eat up, and that was enough to get me on board. I just had to check this film out, so I requested a screener as soon as I got the chance.

The Blue Rose was written and directed by George Baron, and Baron also stars in it alongside Olivia Scott Welch, Danielle Bisutti, Nikko Austen Smith, Glume Harlow, and Jordyn Denning. When the movie begins, Sophie seems like a happily married woman, but her relationship with her husband soon sours, and she lashes out and kills him. The woman apparently disappears as well, so Dalton and Lilly, a pair of rookie detectives, are on the case.

They’re trying to find out whether Sophie did commit the murder, and at first, their investigation seems like any other. While they meet a few odd characters throughout the investigation, this appears to be a fairly normal homicide. However, as Dalton and Lilly dig deeper and ask more questions, they eventually find themselves in a bizarre alternate reality unlike anything they could’ve imagined.

I had somewhat of a tough time getting into The Blue Rose. The acting is very hit or miss, and the two leads, Olivia Scott Welch and George Baron, are probably the worst of the bunch. They play Lilly and Dalton, and for most of the film, their performances just don’t seem entirely natural.

A woman in a pink dress
Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films

I didn’t believe their emotions or their line deliveries, and to make matters worse, they didn’t fit the film’s chronological setting either. The Blue Rose takes place in the 1950s, but these two characters feel like they come straight out of the 2020s. That makes it tough to buy into them and their story, so for a while, I thought I was going to end up giving this movie a negative review.

But then something happened. Around the midway point or so, I realized that the acting didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did at first. I was so engrossed in the story that I had no problem forgiving the mediocre performances, and from then on, I was all in until the credits began to roll.

Now, to explain why I ultimately enjoyed The Blue Rose so much, we have to back up a little bit. The first half of the film’s runtime is a fairly standard mystery. We know that Sophie killed her husband, but Dalton and Lilly don’t, this makes their investigation surprisingly interesting.

These characters uncover many strange clues that seem to hint at something bigger than just domestic unrest and abuse, and I was very interested to learn what else there was to this case. To take just a couple of examples, Sophie has white roses painted blue outside her house, and the image of a blue triangle pops up a couple of times, so it soon becomes clear that we don’t know nearly as much about Sophie as we might’ve thought we did.

Then, at about the 50-minute mark, The Blue Rose takes a turn into the bizarre and becomes something else entirely. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m going to have to be really vague here, but I can say that the rest of this story feels like an Insidious movie by way of David Lynch.

A woman singing
Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films

For instance, there’s a place that feels a bit like an artsier version of the Further, and some of the characters undergo a typically Lynchian identity swap. On top of that, this part of the film also features some genuinely chilling scares, and my favorite of the bunch involves one of the characters being pursued by someone with a knife.

On paper, that might sound like pretty standard genre fare, but this is no ordinary chase. Writer/director George Baron finds a way to imbue the scene with a supernatural unpredictability that will get your heart racing, so if you’re a horror fan, I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

All that being said, I have to warn you that the second half of The Blue Rose is pretty opaque. In good Lynchian fashion, things often just happen without much rhyme or reason, so don’t expect a coherent narrative. In fact, at one point in the movie, one of the characters even says that some art is meant to be appreciated, not understood, and that very much seems to be the case here.

This film is a wild and beautiful surrealist journey that’s not supposed to make perfect sense (or, to be honest, much sense at all), so your best bet is to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Granted, it’s not for everybody, so if you don’t enjoy this kind of filmmaking, you’re probably going to find The Blue Rose endlessly frustrating.

But if you’re a fan of weird stories that leave you wondering what the hell you just watched, I think you’re going to have a blast with this movie. It has some very noticeable flaws, but on the whole, the good in this film far outweighs the bad and makes for an excellent viewing experience.

The Blue Rose is set to hit VOD and select theaters on July 12.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters. You can find him on Twitter @jpnunezhorror.

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