There's a raw, intentionally rough-edged feel to "Bellflower," Evan Glodell's debut feature. Glodell wrote, directed and stars as a West Coast gearhead whose hobby is building do-it-yourself survival gear. In his "Mad Max" fantasies, an anarchist apocalypse is brewing and whoever has the toughest fire-belching muscle car and gnarliest homemade flamethrower wins. Glodell constructed those working prototypes, too. He even built his own film camera out of odds and ends so he could create weird lighting effects right in the box.
Glodell plays Woodrow, a drifty romantic mechanic who trolls for girls with his pal Aiden (Tyler Dawson) when they aren't crafting weapons of mass destruction out of scavenged scrap. He has forgotten to find body armor for his heart, however, and when a pixie punk tomboy hits on him at a local bar, Woodrow is ill-equipped to defend himself against the shock and awe of infatuation. Their affair begins promisingly, with a drive to a Texas roadhouse in Woodrow's 1950s tailfin special, whose dashboard he has equipped with a push-button bourbon dispenser. The good times end badly, and thoughts of revenge become a full-blown nightmare of destructive retaliation. Hell hath no fury like an emo grease monkey scorned. But is the mayhem real or a bitter daydream?
Some of the bodywork on the story itself is pretty amateurish, but you have to believe that Glodell will come back with a more polished contraption next time around. Glodell doesn't have the emotional intelligence or filmmaking finesse of the early Martin Scorsese, but his film is a new-millennium descendant of "Mean Streets." This time out he's made an unusual film. Next time it may be an original and noteworthy one.