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2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Last Night A Mixtape Destroyed The World"
5 stars

One of the best things about the movie reviewing gig—other than the high pay and the astonishing personal and professional respect one earns from it—is when you encounter a film about which you know nothing and made by people you have never heard of before and discover that you are in the presence of a truly original work—the kind that you could easily see future generations obsessing over one day as we do with our favorites.”Starfish” is just that kind of film, a low-budget and decidedly low-fi work from writer-director A.T. White, perhaps better known to some of you as the lead singer of the U.K band Ghostlight that is smarter, trippier and more consistently ingenious and thought-provoking than any dozen studio genre behemoths that you or I could name.

The film stars Virginia Gardner as Aubrey Parker, a young woman who has returned to her hometown after an absence to attend the funeral of her best friend, Grace (Christina Masterson). Already feeling guilty for what she feels was her abandonment of her friend in her time of need and unable to process the parade of former friends and Grace’s family at the memorial service, Aubrey flees and winds up sneaking into her friend’s now-vacant apartment. There, having effectively shut herself off from the world, Aubrey spends her time doing little beyond rummaging through Grace’s things, coming across, among other things, a mixtape that she inadvertently starts up before going to sleep. When she wakes up and looks out the window, it appears as if the apocalypse has occurred and that mankind has seemingly vanished while monsters roam. Between a cryptic message she hears over a walkie-talkie and some mysterious instructions left by Grace herself. it seems that the cassette may have opened the door to another dimension that means the destruction of our world. However, Grace has hidden a series of additional tapes around town in place that were important to her and Aubrey and if Aubrey can find them all, perhaps she can reverse what has happened. The trick is that the retrieval of the tapes, not to mention the songs that are contained on them, end up inducing any number of increasingly hallucinatory and emotionally fraught memories that Aubrey will have to finally process if she (and mankind) is going to be able to go on living.

This is certainly an audacious conceit for a movie, especially for one being produced for what I presume was a fairly low sum, but White proves to be more than equal to the challenge. Rather than a big knockabout genre piece, his film is more of a quiet and thoughtful meditation on grief and loss and how people use popular culture, especially music, as a way of trying to come to grip with those feelings in order to move on. This may not be the most narratively driven film that you will ever see but it is quickly apparent that White is more interested in creating and sustaining a mood that properly puts us into the mindset of Aubrey, who is front and center for virtually the entire running time, and in this regard, he succeeds incredibly well in suggesting the fog of confusion and grief people often find themselves in following a great loss. White also knows how to change things up in intriguing ways that nevertheless feel at home with the story he is telling—one sequence is rendered in animation while another breaks the fourth wall in a manner that might leave Charlie Kaufman’s head spinning. Besides White’s work, the best thing about “Starfish” is the incredibly focused and emotionally fraught performance by Gardner in the lead—she may not be familiar to a lot of of you, though some may know her through appearances in the likes of the recent “Halloween” film and the TV series “The Runaways,” but based on her work here, she is someone whose future stardom seems all but assured.

The only problem with “Starfish,” alas, is that, like most micro-budget films these days, it is not getting an especially wide release and if you are lucky enough to be in a city that is showing it, it is almost assured that it will be playing in the local theater that specializes in the weirdo films you have never heard of instead of one of the comfortable multiplexes. Nevertheless, if “Starfish” does happen to turn up in your neck of the woods, you should make every possible effort to see it and if it doesn’t, you should make a note of it to check it out when it eventually turns up on VOD or cable. Based on their work here, both White and Gardener are destined for great things in the future—why not get in on the ground floor while you can?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=32844&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/29/19 10:22:15
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User Comments

10/21/19 M Touching end of the world. 4 stars
3/29/19 James Queerbugger A ludicrous joke of a movie, almost unwatchable. 1 stars
3/28/19 selena kyle PROOF READ 1 stars
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Directed by
  A.T. White

Written by
  A.T. White

  Virginia Gardner

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