Felt is one of the weirdest films you'll see this year. It's a post-traumatic film, but its trauma is mostly unknown. Though never specified, there are implications of rape—contextualized in the way the main character, Amy, talks about female objectification and the reaction she has to her date's insensitive roofie jokes. But Felt—director Jason Banker's second 'narrative feature'—isn't concerned with the shock value of the unspeakable event. He wants to document the strange characterization of Amy, post-incident.
'Narrative feature' here is in scare quotes, because there's a documentary-like quality to Felt. Its lead, Amy, essentially plays herself (Amy Everson). She co-wrote the story with Banker, who met Amy and was enamored by these erotic skin suits she created out of felt, many of which come attached with fake penises. Amy is seen wearing many of these suits in the film, a big part of why the movie is so unsettling. On its reality-based nature, Everson told Fangoria, "He followed me and captured me in my natural state." Yet it's not quite like the recent based-on-true-story film Heaven Knows What (Josh and Benny Safdie), in which its actor Arielle Holmes essentially plays herself.
Felt is more than just a strange movie chronicling a strange woman doing strange things. Its genre falls outside conventional lines. There's a "movie about nothingness" vibe to its first hour, but to call it a drama would be unfair to its horrifying final act. To call it a horror wouldn't be quite right either. What I can confirm, though, is that it's disturbing and uncomfortable from start to finish. From Amy's first uttered words, "My life is a fucking nightmare," it's clear that this isn't going to be a feel-good film.
There's a revenge thriller element to Felt as well. Perhaps last year's feminist vampire horror A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will come to mind—especially in the way that Amy encounters one trash man after another and gives them a piece of her mind. She's no vampire, but if you're a shitty male, you're definitely in danger. For a fleeting moment, Felt delves into romantic drama territory when Amy falls for a nice man named Kenny (Kentucker Audley), who accepts her for who she is (if throwing her a vagina birthday party isn't a sign of acceptance, then I don't know what is). But, as you probably guessed, Kenny isn't all he's built up to be. The consequence? A terrifying ending—details of which will be left out here.
Despite some of its upsetting scenes, Felt is a fascinating movie—one that belongs on this year's list of "you've never seen anything like it!" (also see: The Tribe). What makes Felt so great, though, is that it's got elements of the recent crop of female-driven horror/thriller, a la the aforementioned A Girl Walks Home or even Gone Girl. Gender roles are bending in these narratives, and Felt, especially, drives that point home. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then Felt's final chapter will be especially hellish for the asshole men who have wronged her.
'Felt' is in theaters June 26 and available on VOD July 21.