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Review: A harrowing account of a mass shooting, ‘Wallflower’ fails to dive deeper

Conner Marx, ‘Wallflower’
Conner Marx in a scene from “Wallflower.”
(Paradigm Studio/Passion River)

A real-life 2006 mass shooting in Seattle is the inspiration for this harrowing drama from writer-director Jagger Gravning. “Wallflower” doesn’t offer much insight into the mind of the unnamed killer (David Call), but it also doesn’t seem concerned with diving into his unknown motive either.

Cutting between the early morning murders and the previous night, “Wallflower” follows both the killer and his victims at a rave and the ensuing after-party. The killer interacts with those who will become his victims, even getting an invite to their post-rave hangout.

“Wallflower” jumps back and forth in time, but its final leap — an epilogue in the life of a survivor — and its cheery credits sequence are too glib after the horrors we’ve witnessed. There’s merit in communicating that there’s life after tragedy, but this ending is jarring and too abrupt.

Gravning displays technical prowess with the film’s visuals that incorporate elements of the party scene in lights and color, but he appears disconnected with the humanity of the story. The partiers’ drug-fueled conversation might feel true to life in its banality, but it doesn’t make for good dialogue or work to humanize the victims. “Wallflower” is a grueling viewing experience at times, and it never truly justifies its existence and the audience going through that pain.

‘Wallflower’
Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 18, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Oct. 19-20 only, Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena
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