Ever wondered what might happen if you gave a bunch of sunstroke, tripping ravers at the Burning Man Festival a camera, a nominal budget, and the directive to create a full-length movie using only “found materials” and other ephemera from the hellscape of the Black Rock Desert? Well, wonder no more. The answer is The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule, a completely nonsensical sci-fi flick that is the red-headed stepchild of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Lord of the Flies, and Zardoz. Ostensibly a dystopian story about…Christ, I’m not even sure what…this flick is an exercise in extreme pretentious art-house filmmaking that leaves the viewer alternating between utter confusion, sheer boredom, and awe at the utter chutzpah of the filmmakers.
Based on the stage play by Tania Myren from the Sowelu Theater Ensemble in Portland Oregon, the plot, as far as I could discern, concerns a tribe of scantily clad, spaced out boys and young men who have survived “The Dusting,” a holocaust of some kind that wiped out most of the populace, leaving few survivors — some of whom look like extras from The Toxic Avenger. A series of flashbacks to some sort of a dreadful boarding school or orphanage recalls happier times, just after the nuclear war. Anyway, the tribe’s leaders, the eponymous brothers Anse (Garfield Wedderburn) and Buhle (Daniel Hill) — communicating with each other in a fully subtitled pidgin dialect that sounds vaguely Jamaican or Bahamian — travel this wasteland looking for gazzoline. No, no, that’s not it. Rather they travel this wasteland performing indecipherable rituals and killing off radiation poisoned survivors (aka wigglers) in order to cleanse the world for the coming rapture or some such thing. After trying to off to a female wiggler, the brothers encounter Persephone (Kelly Talent), aka Lori Petty’s understudy from Tank Girl. The leader of a female group of survivors, Persephone tries to pit Anse and Buhle against each other in a ruse to save her own tribe.
“…they travel this wasteland performing indecipherable rituals and killing off radiation poisoned survivors…”
Wracking my brain as I could, I tried to discern if the film was meant to be a commentary on the poisonous nature of the patriarchy, our insatiable consumerist society, the reignited nuclear arms race or some other cinematic trope commonly found in the dystopian film. Or, perhaps, in naming the female lead Persephone — after the tragic Greek goddess of spring who is dragged to hell by Hades, lord of the underworld, thus heralding the coming of winter — the filmmaker was addressing the “male gaze” in some fashion or the role of women as life givers and sustainers.
Yet, after rewatching a few scenes, I realized this was a fool’s errand as I could not pin down what deeper societal point the filmmakers might have been driving at. Really, the only edict governing this mess of a picture seemed to be “film first and ask questions later.” I do give the art and location directors props for pulling together some unique set pieces on what must have been a meager/non-existent budget. Beyond that, however, if you really have a hankering for a good evening of an end of the world entertainment, steer clear of this brushfire and cue up the far more sensical and uplifting classic, Soylent Green.
The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-Man’s Land (2013) Directed by Barry Hunt. Written by Jeb Pearson. Starring Lorraine Bahr, Daniel Hill, Garfield Wedderburn and Kelly Tallent.
½ out of 5 stars