Writer/Director Calvin Reeder is known for his bent films such as 2006’s ‘Little Farm’ and the dark comedy of 2005, ‘Jerk Beast’. His newest work ‘The Oregonian‘ is one of those few movies that allows the audiences to come to up with their own interpretations. It is not a horror/slasher film, nor a “bent on revenge” film—though the stills released from the movie would make you think otherwise. The Oregonian provides a unique tale of a girl’s guilt and her journey to evolve from her introspective reality. Reeder’s work invokes feelings akin to Carlos Castaneda’s “Don Juan” writings, and Herk Harvey’s film “Carnival of Souls“. Topped with the atmospheric dead weight of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”—Lewis Carroll comes to mind as well.
The film starts with Lindsay Pulsipher (True Blood); an unnamed young woman involved in a deadly car accident on a rural highway. She had been on the run after bludgeoning her husband, who had been drunkenly accusing her of having an affair. . When she comes to, she cannot recall who she is and sees what damage her accident has caused. She begins walking to find help and encounters an array of strange characters including a mad women in red (a scary Lynne Compton), a costumed Pervert (a wicked Matt Olson), The Omelet man (Oregonian Producer Roger M. Mayer, who has the best line in the film), and more.
With each encounter, she seems to recall shreds of her past. However, each piece makes no sense or is far too fragmented. Later in the film, she meets what seems to be a sage. This is where my Castaneda interpretation sets in; the sage gives small clues to what she needs to do, like the Brujo Don Juan. This encounter leads to some interesting developments, and all hell breaks loose before our conclusion.
‘ The Oregonian’ also captures the imagined eeriness of rural America and the downfall of economic growth there. This is emphasized with the film’s backdrop of abandoned towns and run down hotels. Kudos go to the location manager, Micah Van Hove, for his work in finding these forgotten pasts. A word of caution: the film has some stomach churning scenes, including urinary surprises and even necrophilia, which made a few of the audience members cringe. However, the intensity of ‘The Oregonian’ lies in its locations, editing, soundtrack, cinematography, a near lack-of-dialogue, and Calvin Reeder’s directing. It sits on you and throws punches once in a while; it’s not for everyone, and that is its power.