Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wild, ambitious, and unique, The Blazing World is stunning in scope and directed, written, and starring the incredible Carlson Young. The indelible lead of our film, Young’s character Margaret, is our anchor through the trauma, metaphors, and trippy visuals, and it’s a performance full of hefty emotional weight. The supporting cast around Carlson is just as strong: Udo Keir is our uber creepy guide to this world, Dermot Mulroney’s abusive father figure is highly unnerving, Vinessa Shaw’s motherly role is bizarrely unstable and fascinating to watch, and John Karna (another alum from MTV’s overlooked Scream series) plays a different kind of role than I’ve seen from him before as Margaret’s trashy ex. The gorgeous visuals and vibrant colors make the film pop even during some scenes that mostly serve as setup, carving Young out as a director who knows exactly what she’s doing. The dream vs. reality angle kept me hooked, with the gripping score and sharp sound design hammering in the mood and atmosphere. The surreal nature of the movie brought to mind a mix of Donnie Darko and Alice in Wonderland. This is without a doubt the most fascinating movie I watched from this year’s entire Sundance Film Festival lineup and I know I’ll be thinking about it for days.

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