This early 2000’s gem is quite over looked, probably because it was so poorly received and had such a limited release. Gilliam, the genius behind classics films such as Brazil, Time Bandits and The Holy Grail explores blurred lines and childhood trauma from a very surreal and noir fairy-tale esque angle in this Canadian-British made dark fantasy.
The controversy surrounding this film all stems from its use of very adult themes with a young protagonist. Tideland centers around Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) who was 9 while the movie was made, who plays the daughter of two drug addicts in a ramshackle home in a wide-open nightmarish prairie like setting. Both parents ‘check out’ early – though their rotting and later taxidermized bodies remain on screen throughout the film.
After her parents’ demise, Jeliza-Rose is forced into a fantasy world all of her own, and quickly descends into complete hallucinatory madness. Her only friends are three severed dolls’ heads and some very bizarre neighbours named Dell and Dickens.
In true Gilliam fashion, the direction behind this was very similar to his previous work. Featuring swooshing camera movements, tilted frames and over exaggerated acting. Creating a very dark dream like aesthetic, against a very over saturated and bright setting. All shot in Regina, Saskatchewan and the surrounding area in late 2004.
In response to the controversy surrounding the film’s FIPRESCI Prize, selected by an international jury of film critics who in their award statement said “Gilliam’s was the only one that dared to propose a risky and radical image, without any concession, on a specific matter: madness as the only way of escaping in the face of a hostile environment.” Gilliams ability to combine childlike sensibilities with existential themes made this one of the most impactful and disturbing films I’ve ever seen.
If you enjoy a difficult and long watch, Tideland is the film for you. Watch the trailer below and check back on screamish.net as we continue to wrap up the 10 Most Disturbing Movies You’ve Never Seen list!
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