Leading up to the Tribeca Film Festival, this was the one movie that I was looking forward to the most. Just by doing my initial research on the premise, two women try to rob their insane, delusional friend who forces them to play a game, I was hooked. It looked visually engaging and the premise was ripe for some insane antics and incredibly uncomfortable scenarios. I love horror movies that play with your mind, and this is the kind of movie that I’ve been craving for a while.
My hunger is not satisfied though. I can fully admit that Braid is a beautiful film, with each shot having something gorgeous in it, but it’s all style with no substance. It’s an engaging and fascinating style, but the actual plot is bog standard, seen this a million times before plot.
Director: Mitzi Perone
Release Date: April 22, 2018 (Tribeca Film Festival)
So Braid is a very pretty movie, let’s get that right out in the open. Few horror movies can keep me visually engaged in what is going on, but Braid is able to do that expertly. There’s a use of a plethora of colors throughout the movie, making it better than the greys and blacks you typically get in a genre movie. It’s interesting to watch at the end of the day and I would honestly recommend watching the movie if you just turned the movie on and muted it, with a little bit of creepy atmospheric music playing in the background.
But we don’t live in a world where the movie can just be muted, and the plot becomes dull, at least compared to the excellent visuals. The main women, Petula and Tilda, are forced to interact with their old friend Daphne’s crazy delusions, but those delusions are just run of the mill. When I think of an insane woman who still lives in her childhood, a million creepy and disturbing ideas can run through my head. Hell, as someone who browses on the internet, you should at least be aware of how uncomfortable the premise could be. But Braid never goes into uncomfortable territory, at least for me. It just has a surface level grasp of how to use that concept.
But getting back to the larger issue at hand, the visuals clearly outshine the actual movie. The debate between style over substance is one that I’ve seen plenty of times before, and it’s a complicated one. What makes a movie’s lack of substance good, and what makes it bad?I’m actually fortunate enough to have a recent example on standby, the fantastic Batman Ninja. Both Batman Ninja and Braid are style over substance, but in the case of Braid, once you get over the visuals, there’s nothing really left for the movie to surprise you with. It becomes one note, which is something a horror movie should never do. For Batman Ninja, it continually changes things up with its setting and world, either by changing the art style or upping the stakes tremendously so that status quo is never really consistent. Batman Ninja can surprise its audience when it reaches its third act, Braid does not.
It’s a shame because I do think there’s a lot of potential with a concept like this. Braid is the first feature film directed by Mitzi Perone, and I think she has real potential. She could make a fantastic horror movie eventually since she clearly knows how to make an interesting concept and make it look amazing. It’s just that in the future, she needs something to pair off with the fantastic visuals in order to make her films outstanding. A good first attempt and I only expect better products from her going forward.