REVIEW: 'Spirit Quest' (2021), a comedy feature by Brent Lydic
Old friends go on a hallucinogenic mushroom trip through the desert to face their fears, doubts, and failures in hopes of coming to enlightenment... even if that just means learning how to change a tire.
"I think there comes a time in all our lives where we start to question the things we we’re told growing up and start to establish who we are what we believe on our own. This film is a comedic attempt to show the journey of leaving one stage of life to enter into the next and what has to be done to get there. Growing up evangelical in the Midwest I was given a lot of certainties in how to be in the world with the ultimate goal of ending up somewhere, up there as long as we stayed on the “correct” spiritual path. With Spirit Quest I really wanted to subvert the narrative of the spiritual journey by making our searchers the least likely sojourners on a souls’ quest, where the ultimate destination isn’t found somewhere else but can be found right now, in any ordinary moment. "
- Brent Lydic (director/co-writer)
Outside the Spotlight says: Mushrooms. Heck of a drug. What better way to get over a break-up than to retreat into the middle of a sandy nowhere with your best friend and trip balls to push all of that sorrow away for a while?
Director and star Brent Lydic, co-writing and starring with Tip Scarry, who we’ll call this film’s spirit masters, set out to tell a hallucinogenic tale of friendship which is structured as a comedy and whilst it does naturally contain plenty of laughs, the darkness of psychedelic drugs is certainly prevalent immediately.
At times, Spirit Quest feels much more psychological in the vein of features like Mandy albeit a lot more light-hearted with hints of fear and paranoia. The vivid imagery is much more akin to an actual drug-trip with purpose of demonstrating to the viewer how it can actually be.
Following a highly intriguing opening sequence involving a singing, ukulele playing Dracula and tambourine-smashing astronaut; two figures that remain prevalent throughout the journey, assumingly as a metaphor for what our two pals are “out here looking to find.”
The film lacks much actual narrative structure but is split into rather distinct, seamlessly connected skit-like chapters as the two spin through time, space and all aspects of reality and even fiction. The first of which is a rather odd interaction with "Eddie", (Tim Fox) around a camp fire, followed by a shape and colour-bending animated sequence by Cory McGill showing us when the mushrooms kick in.
From here, things get very creative from a television show interview hosted by Navaris Darson with the two being interviewed about action figures of themselves, which is a standout sequence of the film as it is a completely whacky and random throwback to the ads and television content of yesteryear. It also showcases how the two may see themselves, as the figures are self-designed. All the way to materialising into completely alternate personas in different time periods including as monks hundreds of years ago serving Father Delaye (Sean Daly) and criminals in a love triangle with a woman named Jessica (Kendall Dill).
Spirit Quest does suffer a little with its pacing as some of these fungi-induced situations can drag slightly and some seem to serve little purpose to said lack of narrative albeit do remain entertaining.
At just over the half way point, the comedy takes a backseat as the two travel further and further into the human psyche and to the roots of their issues. Things become more mellow and sympathetic and delve deeper into the feels as the two re-discover their friendship and the very nature of existence.
Brent Lydic and Tip Scarry who both use their reals names, Brent and Tip, which wildly fit perfectly, offer wonderfully quirky performances taking full advantage of the whacky nature of the trip, both literally and figuratively. A flashback gives some insight and some nice little details delve deeper into each character. Notable are some rather hilarious but also rather sympathetic Google search history results.
All of the fun and ups and downs are aided by the music of Grammy-nominated artist Gregory Alan Isakov with original songs by Tip Scarry and an original Score by Andrew Joseph Miller.
The film ends on a rather ambiguous note which is certainly fitting however may leave some with a feeling of more closure to be desired. It does leave the viewer a lot to think about though and honestly, would you expect anything less after a mad mushroom trip?
Spirit Quest is a much welcome addition to the trip movie sub-genre that also includes the aforementioned Mandy along with titles such as The Trip, Easy Rider and Trainspotting.
-About the director-
As a filmmaker in Los Angeles, Brent Lydic has produced and directed digital content with over half a billion views. He has launched several successful series including Man at Arms: Reforged, Super-Fan Builds and Interns of F.I.E.L.D. Spirit Quest serves as his feature film debut and was acquired by Gravitas Ventures.
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