88 (Film) Review

88_PosterI’m not going to pretend that I chose this film for any other reason other than Katharine Isabelle. I love her so very much.

That said, I’m not really sure what the fuck went on here so I think I’ll just launch into it and see where this review goes.

As always, *spoilers*.

Also, I’m wondering if January’s series of films should be entitled ‘Smoking Films’ because so far our two main protagonists have had a very strong attachment to their cigarillos. Just an idea.

88 (2014)

Director: April Mullen
Stars: Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Doiron

IMDB Synopsis: A young woman comes to in a roadside diner with no idea where she is or how she got there. Split between two timelines, she gets taken on a violent journey as she seeks out the person responsible for her lover’s death.

My Review:

Katherine Isabelle AKA Gwen is sitting in a diner in front of a mound of pancakes. It would be fair to suggest that she’s somewhat catatonic, all wide eyes and a dazed disposition. We assume from the opening credits (which explains the phenomenon) that she’s in a fugue state. We don’t really know why at this stage but shit goes really bad when she freaks out, apparently triggered by a song on the duke box.

She shoots a waitress with a gun she’s just found in her backpack and then runs, steals a vehicle and manages to allude the po-po who just happen to be dining in the same establishment.

I better mention here that this film is a patchwork of flashbacks and hidden memories, and its all over the place so my timeline might be a little rocky. I don’t think it really matters.

We’ve all been there, amirite?

So then we flash back to the lovely Gwen running along an open road in a red dress and then passing out. Things are looking fishy for sure.  All that’s really clear at this point is that Gwen is disturbed and really likes to drink milk. Like really loves it.

Anywhoo. Gwen doesn’t have any idea how she got to the diner, or how her hand got so damaged (it’s bandaged and on inspection, she discovers she’s missing her pinky) but she does find a motel key in her back pack, which leads her to Room 88. This is where she starts to piece together her story, of which she has no memory whatsoever. She does remember she has a boyfriend though and phones home to leave a message, asking him to come to Room 88 ASAP.

Happier times

Inside, the room looks like a set piece left over from Memento (2000), with newspaper clippings on the walls and a body in the tub. In amongst the crime solving paraphernalia and ashtrays are some photos of Gwen with her boyfriend Aster (Kyle Schmid). I think it’s here she works out that he’s dead but I have no time to think (and nor does she) as an evil Henchman (from one of the wall clippings) bursts through the door to execute her.

In the nick of time, he is taken down by the arrival of Ty, who seems to know Gwen even if she doesn’t recognise him. He quickly scoots her away, kicking and screaming. Later he fills in a few blanks, though Gwen’s memories do not loosen up. She doesn’t know who to trust but decides to take a gamble on Ty.

Smokin’ hot

Also, it seems as though Gwen’s known by the moniker of ‘Flamingo’ and may have taken on an uncharacteristic persona following her trauma. She swears to Ty that she’s no killer which amuses him, suggesting that she’s been something of a badass up to now.

Ty and Flamingo (let’s face it, it’s the better name) go off to visit Ty’s friend, Lemmy (played by the film’s director, April Mullen). I have to admit I had high hopes for Lemmy as she’s the only other female besides Flamingo in this male dominated movie but they don’t even communicate with one another! (A massive fail of the Bechdel test). Alas this can never be remedied as shit hits the fan at Lemmy’s place, people perish and Flamingo is arrested.

For a second it seems as though Flamingo is going to surrender to the cops, especially when Sheriff Knowles (Michael Ironside) is quite kind and really believes her when she says she has no memory of what’s happened. But Ty storms in again and Flamingo is released back into the wild.


“Where we’re going we don’t need no clothes… why are you shuddering?!”

I can’t go on like this for the whole review as it will take forever but the crux of this film is that, slowly, Flamingo (named after a strip club is would seem, or was the strip club named after her?) starts to unravel the mystery of who killed Aster.

It all comes back to a man called Cyrus (or The Anti-Doc Brown) who seems to have been a main feature in Flamingo’s life since she was a young ‘un. This is very creepy and he’s a very jealous man. He also does Very Bad Things.

Before I close, let’s ask ourselves some questions, shall we? (The answer to this is always yes).

“Lady in Red? I hate that fucking song.”

My Questions: 

Who killed Aster – and why? Who is Gwen/Flamingo? Will she get out of this in one piece? What’s with her obsession with milk? (It’s sort of sexual/phallic but not phallic, you know?).

And how can I convince KI to become my very best friend (who I also love)?

My Thoughts:

I’ve been reading a fucking amazing book called Life Moves Pretty Fast and it’s changing the way I look at modern films compared to films from the 80’s, especially films with female leads (of which there are not nearly enough). This post isn’t really the right place to air my gripes about that (read the book yourself, it’s magnificent!) but I went into this film with a certain mindset I suppose.

I don’t know how feminist this film is. A bit, I guess. I think the intention is there, we have a ‘strong female lead’ who isn’t all about competing with another woman for a man, that’s nice. She saves herself more times that she’s saved by a man. She ultimately gets what she wants by the end of the film, which is the ‘truth’.

The only other female roles in this film, besides Lemmy, are the strippers at Flamingos. They’re treated exactly as you’d expect them to be treated by a pig boss and his band of merry henchmen. Sadly there’s no retribution for any of the women.

Katharine is great in this, even if the story is a little convoluted. The movie poster heralds this as ‘Kill Bill meets Memento’ and I’m not convinced (KB is one of my all time favourite films, so no cigar). I’d love to see her in a Tarantino movie though. If I’m honest I just want good things for her and better roles, more like American Mary (2012), please!

My Rating: 3/5. A bit all over the place but my crush still reigns supreme. 


What does Jillian think of my heavily biased film choice this week? Head over to see for your damn selves!