Fantasia Review: Strawberry Mansion

James approaches the remote farmhouse

While filmmakers may be constrained by finances or restricted by the availably of technology, the limits of the human imagination are almost boundless. Genre cinema provides a perfect safe space for experimentation and innovation. It’s unique in that way because by the very nature of science fiction, anything and everything is possible. This is most certainly the case with Strawberry Mansion, a film which revels in this freedom.

In a near future an authoritarian state taxes the dreams of its populace. This is achieved by using dream auditors to assess how much each person owes. James (Kentucker Audley), a mild-mannered government agent, is sent to a remote farmhouse to inspect the dreams of an elderly eccentric lady, Bella (Penny Fuller). On arrival, he discovers years and years of unprocessed VHS tapes. As he begins his task James encounters his host’s younger self (Grace Glowicki), enters a strange world and stumbles upon a secret which could change his life.

To say Strawberry Mansion is an unusual film would be a vast understatement. One of a kind, it’s an engaging and offbeat mix of abstruse fantasy, surrealist goofball and paranoid delusion. It works so well due to directors Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney’s determination to go all-in. There are no half measures here. No easy solutions. Backed by a thoroughly likable performance from Audley, Strawberry Mansion is a fascinating conundrum. More chicken?

Strawberry Mansion is available on-demand at Fantasia International Film Festival.

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