A female-driven, post-society drama/thriller about love, madness, and humankind’s everlasting hunt for companionship.
Having been produced by the Blaquefyre Independent Film Festival – a grassroots organization that brings art to small communities – Margo wears its indie film credentials on its sleeve from minute one. It’s more arthouse than it is horror.
Written by Matthew Packman, this is the story of a young woman, Libby (Lauren Schaubert) trying to survive in a dystopian backdrop somewhere in Midwest America. When we first clamp eyes on her, Libby is very much the worse for wear; hobbling into an abandoned house on a homemade crutch. Flipping back and forth between the past and the present, we learn more about her and the events leading up to her accident.
Life, though hard, was somewhat better for her when she was with her partner (Brady Suedmeyer). They hunted together, they ate dog food together, they rutted together (naturally). When they walk headlong into a trap set by a couple of angry marauders, Libby’s soulmate takes an overdose of bullet to the head, leaving her to fend for herself. An already daunting task compounded by the fact that Libby, though practical at times, took a large part of her direction from her man. Now that he’s no longer around to call the shots, she must, as the cliché goes, search deep within herself to find her true inner strength. In a way, she’s the voice, try and understand it. She’ll make a noise and make it clear. She’s not gonna sit in silence. She’s not gonna live in fear. Oh-wo-wo-wo, oh-wo-wo-wo.
Whilst roaming the landscape for food, Libby crosses paths with who will eventually be the film’s antagonist, Margo (Abbey Hickey). Rather than join forces and survive the wilderness together, Margo chooses to hunt Libby down. Meanwhile, Libby is visited by the spirit of her beau, who distills wisdom like he’s a Jedi ghost. Obviously this a comfort thing for Libby, but I can’t imagine he’d be my first go to when reminiscing. Who’s the one who fell for the old bobby trapped house, dude? It wasn’t Libby that’s for damn sure. Give me Bear Grylls any day.
All of this doesn’t happen for a very long it should be noted, as Margo spends a long stretch of its two hour running time following Libby everywhere she goes. In fact, pacing is Margo’s main issue. What happens on screen – or doesn’t to be fair – doesn’t justify such a long running time considering its lack of a decent pay off. A large part of the problem is down to Packman giving away parts of his film to a soundtrack that plays all its songs in full to emphasize Libby’s feelings at any one time. Presumably written and performed by local bands, the inclusion of the songs gives Margo the feeling that someone keeps flicking to a music channel whilst you’re trying to watch it.
There are some nice little touches, particularly the reverse Momentum which sees the B&W movie punctured by color flashbacks. The concrete shows the literal joy draining out Libby’s life. It’s a nice, if somewhat obvious, touch. As too are the Mad Max nods that run through the film. And I’m not talking about the copious amount of dog food eating. You can’t tell me that Charlize Theron’s Furiosa didn’t have at least a passing influence on the climatic fight of Margo. And Schaubert, it should be said, has the unenviable task of being in every scene and does well to carry the film.
Margo isn’t a terrible film, its themes of growth and companionship are eternal – And let us be honest, the world needs for female led movies – but it stumbles too often. A refining and sharpening of focus would certainly help it. The idiom is that one should be going for quality before quantity.