Actress Carlson Young adapts her 2018 short The Blazing World into a full-length feature for Vertical Entertainment. Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman, Margret Winter (Carlson Young), returns to her family home to the joy of her parents Tom (Dermot Mulroney) and Alice (Vinessa Shaw). Two decades earlier, during a marital spat, Tom and Alice's carelessness caused the tragic death, as they weren't paying attention to their daughters. Margret soon finds herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.
Margret has recurring hauntings from the voice of Lained (Udo Kier), a mysterious man who wants her to join him in a swirling vortex. Through an epic journey down the darkest corridors of her imagination, she tries to exorcise the demons, pushing her closer and closer to the edge.
Carlson Young and her co-writer Pierce Brown loosely inspire their film’s screenplay on author Margaret Cavendish's 1666 work of the same name. Cavendish believed that there was a utopian kingdom in another world (with different stars in the sky) that could be reached via the North Pole. The author breaks her novel into three sections. The first being “romancial," the second "philosophical," and the third "fancy" or "fantastical." Thankfully the film doesn't take this approach as it’s already a disjointed mess.
I can imagine the pitch for The Blazing World was something as simple as “Alice In Wonderland goes to hell." It's an exciting pitch, but the problem occurs with the script as the writing duo, Young and Brown don't know exactly where to take the film. The first half focuses on Margaret making the trip back home, while the fantasy elements come into play during the second half. The effects come off as amateurish within the film's fantasy elements, taking viewers out of the moment.
The Blazing World briefly succeeds in the family dynamics between Carlson Young, Dermot Mulroney, and Vinessa Shaw. Perhaps if the filmmaker had focused on a mental horror film, where Young has to escape the murderous Mulroney and Shaw, the final product would get my recommendation. Worst of all in the movie is the performance of the usually reliable Udo Kier, who is obviously only here for a paycheck.
Carlson Young is a talented actress and does show promise as a filmmaker. However, The Blazing World is too overly complex for its own good.
Final Grade: D+
The Blazing World is in limited theaters and is also available to stream