Director: Drew Barnhardt
Screenplay: Drew Barnhardt
Producer: Guy Clark
Music composed by: Ryan Franks, Scott Nickoley
1 Hour 28 Minutes
REVIEW BY JEREMIAH
I've been struggling to write a review of Rondo since first requesting to watch it (I know it's been a while Artsploitation, but I'm really trying here), and it's mostly because Rondo is just so bizarre a film. Taking cues from pulpy crime thrillers, noir, 80s action films, and David Lynch (and some stuff in-between) there's just so much in the way of inspired componentry, wildly stitched together, that it's almost become a the cinematic equivalent of Frankenstein's monster (sort of reminding me of David Robert Mitchell's recent flick, Under the Silver Lake). And just like that wacky bit of movie exercise, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't,
To the former, Rondo is really strong when its moving at a high speed, with high energy, and high intensity—basically whenever it wants to get nasty, sleazy, and stupid; living up to everything its cool poster art (and its inspired sub genres) promises. Moments early on (and one astronomically ridiculous squibtastic moment at the very end) exemplified this best. At it's core, it's a story about secret sex clubs, secret societies, the very nasty—very secret—people who run them, and the unfortunate souls caught in the middle. A sordid tale that works better coming into it the less you know.
As to my issues with Rondo, it's basically anytime the film isn't found in those aforementioned pockets of crazy. Overlong moments of exposition, meandering narrative, and a finale that sits on its ass a little too long for my liking, are the main offenders. And while these lulls and misfires only make up a small fraction of the film's total runtime, other negative aspects unfortunately stretch across the entirety of it. Performances of non-lead characters for one, can be rather shaky—often times coming across as unsure or stilted, the voice-over narration is a cute—if ultimately distracting—novelty, and the visual stylistic flourishes are inconsistently used (only noticeable because when they're uses, they're pretty striking).
All said, for anyone looking to extract some base fulfillment from their cinema intake, or perhaps looking to indulge in some good old-fashioned sleaze and ultraviolence (and are willing to deal with some low budget nigglings), you should be served well by most of what Rondo has to offer.
If anything, it's worth it just for the knee-slappingly-violent conclusion (RoboCop, eat your heart out!).