Director (and writer): Drew Barnhardt
Cast: Luke Sorge, Brenna Otts, Reggie De Morton, Gena Shaw, Michael Vasicek, Ketrick Copeland, Steve Van Beckum
A kinky sex proposition devolves into a chain of murder, sex, revenge. And more murder. – IMDB
Right from the start, it is undeniable that Rondo isn’t going to be a normal film. A narrator (Steve Van Beckum) sets up the scene of what will unfold and this same narrator will return a few times to keep us up to date on what is going on in the minds of the characters. In some ways, this bizarre set up works. At least, it makes sure the audience knows exactly what is going on before they enter into a scene. Of course, this can’t be more odd than Paul (Luke Sorge), a neurotic war veteran whose sister Jill (Brenna Otts) sets him up to see a therapist (Gena Shaw) who in turn ends up being prescribed to a secret kinky arrangement with a password to get in. Crossing the lines into this criminal underworld leads him to meet Lurdell (Reggie de Morton) and the events spiral out of control from there.
Rondo is a bizarre film. It is the execution that makes it unique and not really the story itself. Choosing to use a narrator and then characters in certain roles that say out of the ordinary things is only the tip of the iceberg here. For the most part, there are some incredible monologues for the characters especially the therapist’s that set the tone of the film right away. It is peculiar and straddles between not knowing whether to laugh or to be disturbed. It is an odd feeling to say the least. In other moments, the narrator talks as the characters just sit there and the camera zeroes into their expressions. It draws out the scene of the conversation. While it gives something of a stylistic difference, it does beg the question of why we don’t just get the dialogue itself. In terms of performances here, Rondo boasts some over the top moments including the performances themselves. A lot of times, it is deliberate and also feels that way also. Maybe it is the low budget feeling that it emits and how they turn it around to make it an over the top version that applies to the scenario.
Rondo is a film that will appeal to a niche group. It is over the top and weird in both good and bad ways. It is not quite as unique as it believes itself to be, just like the dark humor will land at times but not all the time. The cycle of events in the film is like a rondo (the musical piece reference), it takes its moments and snowballs them with their own variations involving different character in a similar scenario or amping up the mischief. Rondo is a harmless film to say the least. Its an indie film with a lot of heart but it won’t be for everyone.