Amy (Amy Everson) is working through past trauma with her art. In conversation with a girlfriend, she giddily fantasizes about killing sprees and the sexual torture of men. But when she meets Kenny (Kentucker Audley, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints"), it looks like she's found a good one. He is uneasy, though, when she spears the penis of a voodoo doll in her apartment, stuffed with her unusual craftwork, including a multitude of said organs made of "Felt."
Cowriter (with star Amy Everson)/director Jason Banker found Everson's naked man suit provocative and thought the artist and her life should be the subject of his film. Using the non-actress and her friends, he shot a lot of documentary footage, recreating a failed relationship Everson engaged in during their shoot to create a psychological horror film set in today's rape culture climate.
He's succeeded in two things - building a sense of sickening dread and turning a spotlight on Everson, who turns out to be a natural actress and real screen presence. But although we can deduce Amy's trauma is sexual in nature, we get no real sense of just why that has caused her to embrace the very thing that has presumably damaged her. Banker lets his camera linger too long and often on Everson parading her penis attachment, fetishizing her retaliatory self expression. Amy's obsession with genitalia gets equal opportunity when she shows up at a photo shoot accessorized with exaggerated female parts, her behavior signalling 'unladylike' with excessive farting. Perhaps the point here is a reversal of exploitative titillation, or taking power from one's abuser, but it's overdone to the point where one begins to wonder why none of her friends have suggested psychotherapy.
In early goings, the men around Amy make casual remarks that are clearly triggers for the type of conversation Banker hopes to instigate, but these men are quickly and rightfully disregarded by his protagonist (although any of them would be a more relatable target of Amy's inner rage than the man who eventually does). A double date with Kenny makes Amy's troubled past apparent, but he is kind and compassionate. Kenny couldn't appear more sensitive (he even throws Amy a birthday party which involves her being 'reborn' through an arts and crafts vagina), but Amy's friend warns her to beware nonetheless. Then the unthinkable happens - another friend shows her a picture of Kenny entering his apartment with another woman. It all appears rather innocent, but when Amy gives him the opportunity to recount his previous day's activities, he fails to mention seeing anyone. Amy tells Kenny she wants to show him someplace special and they begin to trek into a Redwood forest. Anyone who's seen "Hard Candy" will know Amy's red hoodie is a big red flag. It's quite clear how this will end.
Everson states in the film's press notes that she cringes when she hears "Felt" described as a 'rape revenge' movie or a 'psychosexual thriller.' Just what is this then, an extreme overreaction? The objectification of women and their abasement for entertainment is a real and serious problem, but turning the tables on the opposite gender doesn't solve anything (unless it is rape revenge one is after). Sexual violence is sexual violence and Banker and Everson's use of it as a conduit to understanding rape trauma is akin to promoting "Friday the 13th" as a lesson on negligent child care. We are horrified by Amy - not for what she's gone through, but by what she does.
Robin gives "Felt" a C.
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