Star Leaf (2015) Review

starleaf1Star Leaf (2015)

Director: Richard Cranor

Starring: Julian Gavilanes, Tyler Trerise, Russell Hodgkinson, Shelby Truax, Richard Cranor

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“Welcome to the garden of Weeden motherfuckers!”

High school friends Tim (Trerise) and James (Gavilanes) served together in Afghanistan as Marine snipers. Tim has since left the service to pursue life as a hippy, while James remains in the core and struggles with PTSD. They get together for what is supposed to be a surf weekend with Tim’s Twilight obsessed girlfriend Martha (Truax) in tow. Instead Tim hijacks the trip for a much better one. They pay a visit to Seth “Guardrail” Slaughter (Hodgkins) and obtain a map to mystical grove of marijuana that has otherworldly origins.

Partaking of the Star Leaf comes with a few caveats. The first rule of Star Leaf is, no pictures, no GPS and no taking clippings. Smoke as much as you want while there, but when you leave, destroy the map and no free samples. Immediately Martha breaks the ‘no-pictures please’ rule with a couple selfies and Tim decides to help himself to some clippings. This unleashes a strange turn of events in a movie that was already half drug trip to begin with.

starleaf2A whacky but workable combination of sci-fi, drugs, and thrills, Star Leaf delivers on its trippy premise with skill and humor. More comedy than horror, it makes for some darn good watching. One of the joys of the film is the snappy dialogue delivered by excellent actors. Gavilanes gives a great performance as the moody and damaged James who’s PTSD forms the crux of the plot. Trerise’s Tim is a funny, likeable ass who has buried his war time trauma with a thin veneer of Eastern mysticism and drugs. Guardrail, the aging hippy biker, played expertly by Hodgkins, brings both skill and warmth to his performance.

The single failing of Star Leaf is a soundtrack so loud the dialogue is hard to hear in places. But it’s a small quibble. Everything other element, direction, cinematography and editing, is pretty outstanding. The effects… well, the mediocre digital animation used for everything from gunshots to explosions is forgiveable in light of Star Leaf’s many positives.

Star Leaf, might, just MIGHT, be a cult classic in the making. The drugs, the hallucinogenic trips, the ‘did that really happen’ plot hovers somewhere between “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” with not all together unpleasant side effects.

starleaf3Warning: Users will experience weird forest ranger Dave played excellently by director Cranor, a rapacious moose, a lot of Twilight references, lens flares, randy and dangerous aliens, laughter, and a few plot twists.

Kudos for: The “Additional marijuana consulting” credit.

Lesson learned: Don’t turn your back on a Moose.



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Che Gilson

About Che Gilson

Che Gilson is a long time horror fan having been converted early by the Hammer vampire films that used to air on local TV stations after Saturday morning cartoons ended. Fed on a regular diet of horror novels she still loves a good scare. She is the author of several comic books, the urban fantasy novella "Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight" and the upcoming "Tea Times Three". While she can't seem to actually write a horror novel she still watches copious amounts of horror movies. She blogs on TV and writing at Twitter: @CheGilson