Title: Mad Heidi
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Johannes Hartmann, Sandro Klopfstein
Starring: Alice Lucy, Casper Van Dien, David Schofield
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
What It Is: In this “Swiss-sploitation,” the land is being overruled by tyrants who aim to control the country by hoarding the distribution of cheese and killing or imprisoning anyone who gets in their way. An innocent Swiss mountain girl named Heidi (Lucy) finds her homeland and family ravaged by the regime and is subsequently imprisoned. Desiring revenge and to dismantle the system, Heidi fights her way out tooth and nail to become tough enough.
What We Think: I was pretty excited to see this movie, based on appearances. With obvious reference to exploitation and grindhouse, but with the quirky dystopic Switzerland twist, this crowdfunded find seemed to harbor a good lot of potential. Is it violent? Capital YES. Is it graphic? UNEXPECTEDLY. Living up to its genre and influences, this film was surprisingly crude, with some shocking setups of nudity that were really strange and uncomfy to see. And that’s fine, it’s weird and the graphic nature and humor otherwise are often worth a giggle, and some fun characters. Narratively and structurally, it could stand to have more of a breakneck pace, or something that kicked its feet up a little more as it went on, as once the promisingly oddball and chuckle-worthy first act is passed and the second rolls around, you find yourself watching the same scene for a while. Heidi’s in prison. Cheese-obsessed government and conspiracy greedy and bad. Heidi gets beat up in prison and is sick of eating cheese. You’re waiting for the prison break and the obvious plot points to get here already, so unfortunately the second act bogged it down quite a bit for me, as the action, characters, and dialogue aren’t the strongest. Basically, it takes far too long to get around to when Heidi becomes the titular ‘Mad Heidi,’ which is a trope that often annoys me because, in an action film, I don’t want to have to wait around so long to see for the lead character not doing anything cool or action-y, especially when everything’s already so predictable. In that, I also wish there was an extra layer of comedy added, as the dialogue and story often resort to just offensive, slapstick, crude, or cheese humor. Which was fine, but not everything really landed. When the beat finally drops and Heidi has her training and transformation montage and becomes who she’s meant to be, there’s just not as much time to showcase that, and again, a lot of the action and entertainment I find lacking.
Other than the story, this film was really beautifully designed, especially for working on a budget. I really loved the artistic elements, such as Heidi’s costuming, lighting, sets, and wacky production design. That was all done very well.
Our Grade: C, A definite appeal to working indie artists and all those who were involved with the support of this film, I think this movie’s best viewing potential possibly lies within a theater or living room with (drunk) friends and would make a great double feature with any other fun “-sploitation” or grindhouse movie (as one does with grindhouse). It ended up not really being my cup of tea as the runtime felt too long and plot points were drawn out too much, and many background characters that were introduced weren’t given much explanation, screentime, or, well, character, but I can’t say that it wasn’t at times fun and definitely imaginative. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing the filmmakers improve in the future, and wouldn’t mind seeing them working with an even bigger budget, and certainly a better script.