Image Entertainment // 2010 // 112 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // May 18th, 2011
Five stories that will mess you up 4 life.
Burning Palms is an anthology made up of five short films that hinge on some twisted black humor premise. It revels in purposefully trying to go just a little bit too far. There are a few through lines for each installment: all of them take place in Los Angeles, they always feature Shannon Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210) as a psychologist in at least one scene, and they are all introduced by comic book panels that make them appear as if they came from an old episode of Tales From the Crypt. I suppose another connecting thread would be that all of them deal with a twisted person or situation that comes off as slightly repugnant by the end of the story if not sooner. It's like a real life creepy EC comic just played out in California rather than some supernatural fictional place. It's proof positive that California sucks souls right out of people.
The five chapters include:
The Green Eyed Monster
Rosamund Pike (Surrogates) portrays the girlfriend of Dylan McDermott (The Practice) who becomes extremely concerned when she sees how unnaturally close he is to his daughter.
This Little Piggy
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch) is a woman who comes completely unraveled when she fulfills her boyfriend's kinky request.
Anson Mount (Crossroads) and Peter Macdissi (The Losers) reveal what happens when a gay couple adopt an African orphan with disturbing habits.
Lake Bell (It's Complicated) becomes a nanny who can't control her charges as they torture the maid (Paz Vega, Sex and Lucia).
Zoe Saldana (Avatar) transforms into a lonely woman who tries to date her rapist played by Nick Stahl (Sin City).
The Blu-ray has a great transfer, but the picture level is decidedly indie film. Colors are very accurate and the detail level is quite good. Sometimes the whole thing appears washed out, but that seems to be a stylistic choice rather than anything to do with authoring the image. The surround sound is right on track as well. It's not a Blu-ray that stands out as remarkable, but the word competent comes to mind easily. There are no extras either, so I imagine whether you find this in high def or on DVD will make little difference in the long run.
If you can get over a daughter and father having a wildly inappropriate relationship, a woman being going nuts after being conned in to doing something sexual that disturbs her, a gay couple mistreating a child, a child mistreating a maid, and a victim trying to get it on with her rapist, then this film might be for you. It has repugnant premises, some pretty good acting, and enough style to sort of work. Director Christopher Landon was known for his short-lived TV series Dirty Sexy Money, so you can imagine this feature film is close to that project in spirit but without any network censors. He seems to relish the free rein, and he finds a way to humiliate his characters at every turn. It takes a special audience to relish this sort of thing, but perhaps you know who you are.
Guilty of being black in its humor, and downright gross in its heart. Burn, baby, burn!
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R