Senseless Image


By Bobby LePire | October 4, 2022

Sam Mason-Bell and Jackson Batchelor have teamed up once again for the eerie, trippy thriller Senseless. Jason (Ryan Carter) and his wife (Ella Palmer) get into a row, causing him to storm off to clear his head. Unfortunately, Jason wanders into the forest, where memories come back to haunt him. This causes the man’s mind to slowly unravel, as Jason now believes he’s seeing ghosts in the woods. But maybe he hasn’t lost his marbles, and something is actually there with him, intentionally preying upon his fragile mental state.

While the pandemic hindered or stifled several creatives, it seemingly allowed the always-working director-producer-writer-editor-director of photography Mason-Bell to find his distinctive voice. Before COVID-19 shut down the world, the filmmaker made several independent titles, some great, others less so. But what was he trying to say with these productions? Well, with Toxic Schlock, I am not sure even he can answer that question. But with the numerous films Mason-Bell has created since coronavirus changed the world, their themes and messages are crystal clear (with one exception, though there’s a lot to love there) and really speak to current anxieties and worries.

Senseless, which he directed and co-wrote alongside co-star Jackson Batchelor, is no different. The two explore mental health, ask what masculinity means, and show how relationships, even if they bitterly end, allow people to keep on during trying times. They do all this while upending typical story structure. There are no three acts here, and while there’s rising action and a climax, depending on how one takes the ending, where those are situated can change.

“…Jason wanders into the forest, where memories come back to haunt him.”

The narrative is deceptively simple on the surface: Jason walks into the woods. His memories proceed to torture him, and he occasionally interacts with them. This either frees Jason from their bonds or further slides him into a spiral of madness as the next ghost or thought enters the fray. It is compelling, eerie food for thought brought to life by the perfect editing. There’s a sequence probably around 30-minutes or so into Senseless where Jason bears witness to a montage of awful things, some of which he caused. Mason-Bell stitches each second together seamlessly, ensuring the audience is never lost during the slightly overwhelming sequence.

Ryan Carter’s fearless performance also helps propel the story along. As he proved in Decline, Carter is a captivating presence who does not mind if audiences despise him for a spell. Here, the actor lets his expressive face do a lot of the heavy lifting. Jason scares even himself at times, and the man’s steely gaze and furrowed brow say more than words possibly could.

Senseless encapsulates the issues facing so many during these trying times. It does so in a hypnotic and experimental way that the filmmakers take full advantage of. The scariest monsters are the ones from inside, but a strong group of friends and a proper outlet to discuss your feelings can help. If you are feeling out of sorts, down, depressed, or just have the urge to talk, please seek out a licensed therapist as soon as possible.

Senseless (2022)

Directed: Sam Mason-Bell

Written: Sam Mason-Bell, Jackson Batchelor

Starring: Ryan Carter, Jackson Batchelor, Ella Palmer, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Senseless Image

"…themes and messages are crystal clear and really speak to current anxieties and worries."

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