(director/writer: Joe Badon; screenwriter: Jason Kruppa; cinematographer: Daniel Waghorne; editor: Joseph Estrade; music: Joe Badon/Jason Kruppa; cast: Kali Russell (Marge Corn, Purity), Jeff Pearson (Harry, Mr. Universe), Miles Hendler (Holy Spirit), Brian Plaideau (Death), Vincent Stalba (Uncle Bobbo), Hadier Eiler (Hope), Cami Roebuck (Lt. Borsback), Andre LaSalle (Gluttony), Jason Edward Johnson (Rock and Roll), Tiffany Christy (Lust); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Daniel Waghorne, Vincent Stalba, Coby Holloway, Joe Badon, Brian Plaideau, Joseph Estrade, Katie Weiss Porter; Two Headed Venus Productions; 2023)

“A pretentious but unusual film that might intrigue those who prefer style over substance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Joe Badon (“Sister Tempest”/”The God Inside My Ear”) is a New Orleans indie filmmaker, who directs and co-writes this opaque, bizarre and maddening sci-fi/surreal comedy with Jason Kruppa.

The unconventional film is stitched together from four short films into the likeness of a television miniseries for children. It tells a story about the creepy crack-pot Uncle Bobbo (Vincent Stalba), who is hosting a children’s show on a public access station, and while on the air tells about
how rubber is essentially made out of the blood of dinosaurs. It might be oddly intriguing for those who enjoy mysterious films, even if it makes little sense.

Its premise is based on its promo blurb of “A woman caught up in predatory relationships who is thrown into a multi-layered world of choices after she discovers a mystical book in a thrift store.”

There’s a prologue taken from a standalone short made by Badon in 2021, The Blood of the Dinosurs. In part one it tells of the south Boston auto mechanic Marge Corn (Kali Russell), who daydreams she’s the captain of an intergalactic spaceship fighting with Dr. Universe (Jeff Pearson). In whatever goes for reality, Jeff Pearson is Harry, her sexist slime-ball boss at the garage. After a time-out from the battle in space, Marge comes across “The Wheel of Heaven” adventure book in a thrift store, and becomes the damsel in distress from the book. It all plays out as if a 1950’s-styled horror pic, that has Purity pursued by her evil twin.

In another episode, the
young woman Purity (Kali Russell) is distressed that her car breaks down on a dark empty street in the middle of the night. She then has a chance encounter with a mysterious party host (Jeff Pearson) and his strange party guests, and Purity is left with the existential decision to either break free of her meaningless existence or succumb to her meaningless existence.

The garbled story goes off Baden’s script, courtesy of Russell’s different interpretation of the story from the POV of an actress over the male director.

It’s a pretentious but unusual film that might intrigue those who prefer style over substance. It offers only hints it has something meaningful to say about destiny.

It played at the Nightmares Film Fest. 

The Wheel Of Destiny

REVIEWED ON 2/29/2024  GRADE: C+