Strawberry Mansion is a trippy and bizarre film about a dream auditor (Kentucker Audley) sent to audit an old woman’s dreams that’s filled with muchness to the point of explosion. It tries to cram in so many ideas that it becomes overwhelming. Bizarre, poetic dialogue adds only a thin layer of understanding to the admittedly captivating visual style. It’s more of an experiment than a movie, and is hard to follow. Regardless, I’m happy writer/director duo Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney are taking this many risks with their filmmaking.
“To enter, you must lick the ice cream cone.” Strawberry Mansion is already weird well before James the auditor enters Bella’s farmhouse. A confusing storyline about ads in dreams, government taxation, and mild romantic elements are a taste of the head-scratching patchwork of ideas. The plot is so scattered and convoluted that you feel you’re taking a drug-fueled dive into the dream landscape. Strawberry Mansion is a strange movie begging for thorough analysis. A creepy face with glowing demon eyes, stop motion animated skeletons, and unique costuming make it difficult to dismiss the visuals. The dreams take on a hazy and hypnotically arresting quality—they are erratic and random, just like they would be in real life. I’m not sure that Strawberry Mansion is successful in justifying its totality of randomness, but it was a fun and entertaining attempt.
Strawberry Mansion screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival, April 9th – April 18th, 2021, and the Seattle International Film Festival April 8th – April 18th.
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