BFF bad girls Tilda Darlings (Sarah Hay) and Petula Thames (Imogen Waterhouse) are on the point of paying off student loans by buying into a drug score when the NYPD come a-knocking at their rat-trap apartment. They flee the city – Petula pays for their train tickets by letting the conductor lick her boots – to avoid presumably angry and homicidal suppliers, and fetch up in upstate New York, drawn back to the huge mansion where their childhood friend Daphne (Madeline Brewer) lives alone, again paying shelter with role-play, resuming the game of Doctor that ended badly when they were little – since falling out of a treehouse, Daphne has been addled, maybe homicidally (her parents aren’t around any more). The plan is to string Daphne along, find the fortune she supposedly keeps on hand in cash, and skip out with the money … but the game keeps taking new turns, and the triangular relationship shifts as loyalties waver, new games come to mind, and hallucinogenic interludes become more and more common, casting a literal purple haze over everything.
Writer-director Mitzi Peirone evokes a clutch of films from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, featuring wild children, old dark houses, nasty games, sex and drugs, and hothouse huis clos situations … Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly, Requiem for a Vampires, The Killing of Sister George, Negatives, Games, Images, The Mafu Cage, Daughters of Darkness, Tam Lin. Her revival of the precise look of these films in terms of costume and lighting is as striking as Anna Biller’s use of a similar style in The Love Witch. She shares Biller’s knack of casting actresses who have the right look for the era she wants to evoke, but also lucks into a perfect location in the once-abandoned Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY, which makes an impressive madwoman’s palace and is explored at length. The feel of these films is always suspended between art and exploitation – here, the fact that it’s a pastiche tends to stress the charades aspect of the endeavour, since we’re always conscious that we see actresses playing characters acting roles, and letting their identities waver.