[CFF 2022] WULVER’S STANE Review - A Bizarre and Beautiful Hunger
Jaclyn Barlett says with alluring cinematography and a surreal structure, Wulver’s Stane is a captivating work of art.
Written and directed by Joseph Cornelison, Wulver’s Stane provides a beautifully unique spin on common horror elements. With stunning visuals, an intriguing plot, and a surreal vibe, Wulver’s Stane is endlessly entertaining and unlike any film you’ve seen before. The film follows Claire (Adrian Collins), a woman who appears normal on the surface, but has a strange affliction that causes her to hunger for human flesh.
Desperate to escape her violent past, with which she is haunted by disturbing visions and flashbacks, she begins creating and selling mind-altering elixirs. Wulver’s Stane follows a unique structure that emphasizes the feeling of viewing the world through an altered mind. The eye-catching cinematography makes this film truly memorable.
The film’s stand-out element is its cinematography. It has a dark and beautiful aesthetic with gray-tinted shots of grungy city sights. Watching this film is like looking at art. With each shot expertly composed, it appears more like photography than scenes from a film. Wulver’s Stane follows a unique structure and it unfolds like no other film I’ve seen before. The scenes are bizarre and sporadic, often interposed with disturbing clips and images. This makes the film feel somewhat like a fever dream. The surrealness and confusion of its cinematography add to its narrative about mind-altering substances. Watching the film feels like someone viewing the world from an altered state of mind. This confusion does not hold the film back. While oftentimes films that are difficult to follow can end up being boring, this story is anything but. The bizarreness only increases the entertainment. You truly never know what will happen next.
The plot and method of revealing information to the audience keep the film engaging. While it is difficult to understand what is happening, enough intriguing information is revealed at the right moments to keep us guessing at what is going on and wanting to know more. For example, opening the film with text on the screen reading, “three hundred and sixty-five days since Claire has eaten a person” is a perfect way to grab our attention early on. A lot of thought clearly went into creating this world, full of unique takes on familiar fantasy and horror elements. The detail that went into creating it makes it palpable and more immersive.
Like the rest of the film, the music and audio are a mix of the eerie and the beautiful. The strange score matches the film's ethereal vibe perfectly and is always completely fitting with the tone depending on what is happening. Collins’ performance also stands out. Her emotions are so brilliantly conveyed that they are practically tangible. Making us invested in her story and connected to her character. All of the performances add to the realism of the film, making it more frightening and emotional.
While the confusing structure did not keep the film from being entertaining, I was left with several questions at the end. I hoped that certain things would be put into context as the film went on but there were multiple things I was left confused about. For example, I would like to know more about what Claire’s elixirs do and why she sells them. However, I like that the open-ended story leaves room for audience interpretation.
Wulver’s Stane is a brilliant mix of thrilling, disturbing, and beautiful, with its aesthetically pleasing cinematography and bizarre structure. While difficult to comprehend, the interesting plot will hold your attention with its lack of predictability. Additionally, the confusing structure emphasizes the theme of having an altered mind. The phenomenal performances also aid in immersion and connect the audience with the characters on a deep emotional level. Cornelison creates an intriguing world in that I’d love to delve further into and learn more about.
Wulver's Stane was screened at the Chattanooga Film Festival on June 23-28, 2022.