Burnt Flowers Portrait FINAL

Burnt Flowers (2024) Review

Burnt Flowers, the new film from writer/director Michael Fausti (Exit, Video Shop Tales of Terror), begins with a series of scenes swiftly moving back and forth between London’s Rose Bar in 1968, Islington in 1983 and the Islington Police Station in 1992.

The last location is where Detective Franc Alban (Amber Doig-Thorne, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, Fanged Up) has a visitor, Alice Kyteller (Ayvianna Snow, Ripper’s Revenge, How To Kill Monsters). She’s there to report a missing person, her husband Austin (Adrian Viviani, Power of the Incomprehensible, Sustain) whom she last saw eight years ago in a brothel.

Why has she waited so long to report him missing? “I thought he might come back”. She can’t offer any information and hasn’t so much as asked his friends about him, but she is sure that she and Detective Alban have met before.

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If all of this sounds strange, you haven’t seen anything yet. The director has used terms like “A psycho-sexual Film Noir” and “Alice in Wonderland meets The Wizard of Oz” to describe Burnt Flowers and that’s fairly accurate, especially the Alice in Wonderland comparison as both Detective Alban and the viewer are going down one hell of a rabbit hole.

How deep of a rabbit hole? Our heroine not only has a missing persons case brought to her, she gets a call from Iris Young (Alice Stevenson, Runway, Hell or High Water), daughter of former TV psychic Cassandra Young (Dani Thompson, The Pocket Film of Superstitions, Pumpkins). She claims to have visions revealing information about an unsolved series of murders from 1968.

What is the connection between the two cases? Why does everyone claim to know Detective Alban? And how does mobster Tony Rose (Michael Fausti), or Franc’s mother Kathleen (Roe Haven, Video Shop Tales of Terror) for that matter, fit into all of this?

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For most of its length, Burnt Flowers plays a lot more like a modern noir with a femme fatale and crooked cops, one of whom is played by Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence), BFF Girls), than an actual horror film. Yes, there is a serial killer involved, but those killings are well in the past and just show up in brief flashbacks. The bloodiest scenes are actually mob related murders, complete with practical effects.

But as the film goes on, it becomes obvious that things are even more complicated than they seem. And it’s then, as the lines between then and now and between what is and isn’t real start to blur, that the horror element starts to make itself known. But even then it’s not so much in your face as it is a more subtle kind of horror that comes from the character’s minds and never goes where you expect it to.

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Burnt Flowers is a beautiful film to look at. Cinematographer Kemal Yildirim, whose own film The Haunting of the Lady-Jane still needs to be released, creates a gorgeous backdrop against which the events play out. Nick Burns’ (Exit, Video Shop Tales of Terror) soundtrack neatly evokes the “Swinging 60s” and fits the film perfectly. One thing that didn’t fit the film, however, is, despite the plot being deeply involved with sex, porn, kink and a few other things that may be spoilers, everyone keeps their underwear on. Given the subject matter it feels silly and unrealistic.

Part mystery, part horror film and all mindfuck, Burnt Flowers is a beautiful but twisted little film that, like a girl you picked up at a dodgy club, will entertain you, but leave you feeling dirty when it’s done. And I can’t think of a better reason to see it.

Burnt Flowers is currently playing festivals, with screenings scheduled April 13th at the Hastings Rocks Festival and the 25th at the Romford Film Festival. You can check the Fausti Films website or Facebook page for more information.

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