By Don Simpson | January 24, 2015
Director: Steven Richter
Writers: Steven Richter, Flavia Rocha, Michael C. Lea
Starring: Molly Elizabeth Parker, Britt Harris, Kurt Conroyd, Christian Blair, Lauren Luiz, Rollyn Stafford, Robert Zorn
Mona (Molly Elizabeth Parker) and Rachel’s (Britt Harris) parents died a few years ago, but they continue to live in their parents’ house. Surrounded by old family photos, memories of a past that they would prefer to forget haunt the sisters like an ever-present spectre. The sisters use performance as a means of escape, all the while dulling their senses with sex, drugs and alcohol, but their familiar past continues to inform their present.
We only learn about fragments of their past, mostly revolving around their mother’s involvement with a creepy new age-y cult. Mona and Rachel have since mutated their spiritual upbringing into their own quirky rituals, beliefs and costumes.
A psychology graduate student, Zach (Kurt Conroyd), infringes upon the household as a regular fixture, feeding upon their eccentrically broken lives, forcing them to confront their past and disrupting their ambivalence. Outfitted in suspenders, wife-beater, and beard, Zach looks like an abusive bully. The sisters are sexual and sadistic playthings for Zach. He treats the sisters like lab rats, torturing them with psychobabble and happily observing their resulting mental collapse. Zach’s aggressively intrusive nosiness works opposite to Thor’s (Christian Blair) timid manner of interacting with the sisters. With an overly apparent crush on Rachel, Thor is often caught staring at her, as if she is a strange alien being; but the 15-year old is far too shy to do anything about his feelings.
Relishing in the tragedies and comedies of life, Steven Richter’s Birds of Neptune observes the quirky, dysfunctional family unit with a profound psychoanalytic perspective, giving us a sublimely intimate insight into these lives. Beguiling lead performances by Molly Elizabeth Parker and Britt Harris add earnest naturalism to the slightly off-kilter tone of the film. Earning our sympathy, their performances convince us that some secrets are better to leave locked away in a dark tower.