The Oregonian

Oregon has a reputation for being home to some, well, odd people. (Here is one decidedly odd person. Here is another one. Oh, and there’s this guy). I suppose it was inevitable that somebody would make a film that’s basically about meeting strange people in Oregon.

Calvin Lee Reeder’s new film, The Oregonian is billed as an “experimental horror” film. Aside from some faint echoes of Carnival of Souls, however, there is not much horror in it. It is actually a surreal fantasy. A young woman who is identified only as “the Oregonian” (Lindsay Pulsipher) is living on a farm and involved in an abusive relationship. One day she gets into a car accident on a lonely country road. Although she is injured, she can still walk, so she goes looking for help. She never finds it. Instead, she wanders through a deserted town and meets some strange characters. These include a creepy old woman, a man who urinates in different colors and who obsesses over making omelettes, a man wearing a furry green frog costume, a group of hippies who drink gasoline, and various women who scream for no apparent reason.

Some parts of this film work better than others. The scenes of the Oregonian arguing with her husband are unconvincing and only detract from the trippy feel of the rest of the film. At times the film seems to be making fun of hippies, although I’m not sure that was the intention. (I know I’m not supposed to say these things, but this might be a good movie to watch when you’re stoned.)

The Oregonian has gotten a hostile response from some people. I’m told that at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, a quarter of the audience got up and walked out. The main complaint made against the film is that it doesn’t “mean” anything. Well, I would argue that it isn’t necessary for a film to “mean” something. Andre Breton once defined surrealism as: “Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.” That certainly describes this film. I found this movie interesting enough to want to watch it all the way to the end, which is more than I can say of some critically acclaimed films (for example: Chariots of Fire, Forrest Gump, Never Let Me Go).

People who don’t like this movie need to, as we say in Oregon, chill out.

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