Plot: Paul (Luke Sorge) is haunted by trauma from his past, which drives him to drink and as a result, his life is not where he’d like it to be. He has moved in with his sister Jill (Brenna Otts), who advises him to seek out therapy to help him cope in less destructive fashion. Of course, he’s skeptical about going to a shrink, but her recommendations are not even close to what he expected. She tells him to live life, don’t stop drinking, and seek out some tension relief via sexual engagements. As if she was all too prepared, she even gives him a place to go to meet with people for casual sex, though as he soon learns, the sex is anything but casual. As soon as he speaks the password to enter the fetish party, his life is turned upside down and what started as a trek for some easy sex turns into an all out battle for survival.
Entertainment Value: This is one hell of a ride, a manic, off the rails crime thriller that veers into the surreal and violent, a unique vision that takes some bold risks and backs them up in grand style. The narrative here starts off simple enough, then spirals into unexpected places, then begins to ramp up to the finale, where all hell breaks loose and then some. But Rondo grabs your attention right from the jump, with the bizarre visit therapy session and just goes for broke from there, pushing boundaries and defying expectations. The movie is packed with colorful, memorable characters engaged in all kinds of outrageous activities, some just immoral, others more toward the insane end of the spectrum. Even smaller roles stand out, as all the cast members are given characters with quirks and interesting elements to work with. When Rondo promises sex, murder, and revenge, it delivers on those elements in spades. The movie has a remarkable level of polish as well, with slick visuals and technical elements, good production values, and a capable cast, so this isn’t mere shock value, not even close. The shocks and wild twists are here of course, but you’re also bound to notice how well crafted Rondo is, especially being only the second feature film from director Drew Barnhardt. So if you like unpredictable, surreal, take no prisoners cinema with a polished, artistic flair, Rondo is one you shouldn’t miss.
The nakedness here is quite vivid, with bare breasts, naked ass, and of course, full frontal nudity all on showcase. And this is very intimate full frontal, so expect to be able to read lips in this case. Not a lot of scenes with naked flesh, but the ones that do appear are memorable and then some. The movie has some violence as well, including an out of this world finale that takes squib porn to the next level. The blood flies in spectacular fashion and while Rondo doesn’t have rampant crimson throughout, it makes the most of the times the violence escalates. And not just the blood, but how the violence unfolds helps add impact and style to those final sequences. The dialogue is one of the movie’s strong suits, with a host of offbeat lines delivered by the colorful characters. Some are awkward, others absurd, and some just out of left field, but the writing here is a lot of fun and the cast is game to make the most of the material. You also get one of the most intensive pre-sex instructional sessions of all time, delivered in sincere, deadpan style to ramp up the humor. As for craziness, the entire movie just feels unhinged and as if almost anything could happen. The strange plot twists, memorable characters, odd dialogue, and more, not to mention the wild finale, all add to the score, but it is the consistently unsettling atmosphere that makes Rondo so unstable.
Overall Insanity: 7/10
The Disc: Artsploitation Films released Rondo on DVD and the movie looks good, with a clean overall image and no problems to mention. The visuals show solid detail and a good deal of refinement, while colors are natural and contrast is smooth. As far as DVD treatments are concerned, Rondo looks terrific. You can also explore some extras, such as director Drew Barnhardt’s audio comments, select scene commentary with composer Ryan Franks, some deleted scenes, and a promotional artwork montage.
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