Can we stop pretending that a film like Drew Barnhart’s RONDO is an acceptable film for a man to make? It’s not empowering to cast a woman in some sort of male fantasy with the only flip being ‘she wants it.’ From the start of the film to the end, Barnhart’s 70’s throwback shlock seems particularly devised to play to the baser instincts that genre Festival programmers love for their midnight section. I can’t but hope that is a love that was lost a few years ago. RONDO plays less like a film and more like a checklist, just look at the poster.
For those of you still reading, a quick summary of the plot. A man suffering from PTSD receives a recommendation from a therapist to engage in some kinky sex, care of a secret sex club. Even though one of the men there acts as if he has been here before, the sex club seems to involve having men have sex with a woman and then kill them during the process so that their blood can cover her, something she apparently likes. A majority of this scene is spent on the host describing exactly what can and can’t happen in the room, a forced titilllating scene that seems endless. When the man doesn’t return home, his sister tries to track down what happened and subjects herself to a sexually provocative interview which stinks to high heaven of a man writing something just to hear a woman say it. And then there’s some killing. It’s the kind of film that tries to shroud its toxic masculinity under the guise of look-how-strong-our-women-are because they put themselves in the situation.
So yeah, I hated this movie. It felt like it was made for $15 in friends apartments with a score downloaded at random from a royalty-free music Superstore. The performances are one note, though not surprising given the vapid dialogue they have been given. I’m sure this will play at many genre festivals. But I hope we’re past that.