Hey gang, Valkor here. So question: have you ever wanted to stop watching a film minutes after it began because the characters do something so incredibly dumb? Like so dumb that you can’t help but throw your hands up in defeat? That’s how it went down when I started watching “88”. Yet, as a reviewer, I gotta see this baby through to the end. And after that ridiculous opening (and a second viewing), is the film really worth checking out?
Fugue State - It is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state is usually short-lived (ranging from hours to days), but can last months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity.
The above definition is important to the film at hand as it is what the character is suposedly going through and similar wording is actually shown at the start. In the film “88”, we follow the traumatic journey of Gwen (Katharine Isabelle), who suddenly awakens in a diner, unsure how she got there or what’s going on. She struggles with a backpack, spilling its contents all over the floor. With the aid of a waitress, Gwen is able to retrieve some of the items, but the gathering stops when a gun makes an appearance. Gwen isn’t sure how she got the gun or what the heck is going on, but suddenly she shoots a waitress and now she’s on the run from the police.
Once she’s able to find a safe spot, she begins gathering clues that takes to her to a motel room, which is numbered 88. Inside, the place is disheveled with notes and all sorts of objects that she’s somehow linked to in some form or another and later on there’s a dead body lying in the tub. How it got there and just what’s going on in Gwen’s world… well we need to take a look on the opposite side of her psyche. While Gwen is timid, weak and scared, she has another persona of Flamingo who is strong, ruthless and seductive, plus she has a thing for milk. The film takes you down the twisted spiral of both personas as it pieces together just how Gwen/Flamingo got into this crazy situation. What we do know is that all roads lead to a man named Cyrus (Christopher Lloyd) and getting revenge for the man he killed, and just what’s really his part in all this craziness? Well you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Going back to my opening paragraph, 88 has a beginning sequence, which I described above, that’s really… well stupid. There’s really no other way to put it and it totally takes you out of the film before you could settle in. So, Gwen pulls out a gun in a diner with four cops mind you sitting not far away. Once they’re aware she’s armed they draw their guns and thus we have a bit of a standoff. Gwen accidently fires her gun, shooting a waitress aaaaaand… the cops don’t do anything - they actually let her run out the diner. She even does the “white girl trip and fall” (you know that fall when they’re chased by a psychopath), gets up and is able to escape the police before they even fire one shot.
I know this is jumping the gun for “The Bad” section, but come on man! That’s just so beyond dumb! And don’t give me that “but Val, the diner is full of patrons”. Well one innocent got shot, right? Plus all guns were drawn on Gwen, so the cops could have easily fired, taking her out, thus shortening my 90 minute trek through this film. *sigh*
I like the revenge plot behind 88, which is what initially drew me to it. It’s quite chaotic in its storytelling but does a decent enough job handling the two sides of Gwen. Things can get confusing at times and the story drags here and there, but otherwise you have an intriguing piece of drama, with a nifty (yet predictable) twist at the end. What sells the film is how well Katharine Isabelle handles her two roles; though I think she does Flamingo way better than she did Gwen. Or maybe it’s the perv in me that can appreciate all that violent, sexiness of her character. I really enjoyed Christopher Lloyd’s role in the film, which sort feels like he’s a playing an even more demented “Fester Adams”. Though he doesn’t have much screen time, when he’s on the scene, it’s twisted and creepy. “88” is a strange story of revenge that doesn’t break new ground, but still worth checking out once.
I think a lot of folks will walk away not liking 88 for the sole reason that it jumps around – a lot! Sure the acting is good, but it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on when the film is all over the place. I get that we’re seeing two sides of the same person, whose mind is broken but it tries too hard to be something truly “thought-provoking”. Rather it just comes across as weird and unsettling (and I don’t mean that in the positive). The film also drags to the point that I was distracted by one of my mobile games partway to really care about what was happening on screen; eventually my mind would wander back towards the film, not really caring if I missed anything important. I did end up watching the film for a second time, which put things into perspective, but it’s still a rather “meh” experience. Plus that opening – that stupid opening, just didn’t help much. I liked the idea behind 88, but the overall story just doesn’t cut it for me.
If there’s one thing ugly I could take away from 88 is what the characters do with milk - I’ve never seen a film with so much milk being spilled – and I’m talking a ridiculous amount! Shit was spilling everywhere, even out of this old dude’s mouth at the end. Gross. And then there's this guy:
"88" is available now on physical as well as digital video on Amazon. And if you’re into weird, mind-bending type films, then this one “might” be up your alley, though you can do so much better. Otherwise, out of TOV 5 stars, “88” gets a 2.