Jason Banker’s Felt: Not Your Mother’s Feminism: A Review

“Felt” tells the unsettling story of an emotionally broken girl named Amy (Amy Everson). While the details of her brokenness are never revealed, we know that she is a victim of rape as she deals with demons by creating psychosexual art and acting out.

Amy’s art, in its most bizarre form, includes a Hitler fetus “salvaged” from her pretend time travel to abort the future fuhrer. Other handcrafts include a red-glazed ceramic plate with a guy’s “spread rectum” on its surface.

Amy’s acting out involves a series of costumes. The first is a beige bodysuit that looks like a stretched out pantyhose; the twist here is that the panties sport both a mound of pubic hair and a handcrafted penis.

Also among her repertoire is a flesh colored bodysuit including panties with an over-sized vulva. She wears this costume during a would-be lesbian porn shoot that is far less erotic than it sounds. Later in the film, Amy coaxes her male companion to dress up in the suit.

Two other costumes or alter egos reveal themselves in the film. One is Amy’s super-hero self who resembles the iconic Goodyear Man, with a head and muscles that look like marshmallows on steroids. Another is literally a “sad sack” or hollowed burlap face that she pulls over her head. (I couldn’t help but feel a pang of “Frank” when she was wearing this mask; viewers may recall Frank, also a tormented soul, from “Lost Weekend II”).

There is a somewhat ambiguous plot to “Felt” that is the backdrop to Amy’s costumes and art. Amy has clearly been sexually traumatized as revealed in her words: “just because you’re a girl gives men the right to grope you and do what they want because they’re selfish and exploitative.” Yet, she is still both drawn to and repulsed by men. After a short-lived attempt at online dating, she meets Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a seemingly nice guy, who throws Amy a surprise “rebirth” birthday party complete with a life-sized silken vagina (envision Anita Diamond’s “The Red Tent” here). Unfortunately, Kenny’s party won’t be the only surprise in this film.

“Felt” is the second film by director Jason Banker who also wrote and directed “Toad Road,” an earlier trippy kind of horror film. Banker co-wrote “Felt” with lead actor Amy Everman, an artist and trauma victim herself, who improvises much of the dialogue and action. For example, there is an early scene where Amy hyperventilates into a plastic bag of trail mix. Vicariously short of breath myself, I started to “feel it” here and to feel her torment. There is another scene where she desperately declares to her girlfriend Elizabeth (Elisabeth Ferrara) that she just “wants to gouge someone’s eyes out.” I felt it here too.

Sadly, the “I’m feeling it” parts slipped away for me as the 80-minute movie shifted from a post-trauma, girl-power film to what Banker himself calls a docu-horror, where Amy’s handicrafts are no longer used for self-medication but for something more sinister.

Despite the narrative shift, however, I never lost my fascination with Amy, both the character and the actor. Her childlike voice and natural performance are raw and engaging, and as cliché as it sounds, we truly feel her pain. Unfortunately, in the end, I was hoping that girl power rather than psycho horror would rule.

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Jason Banker’s Felt: Not Your Mother’s Feminism: A Review

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