DAMSEL  (director:/writer: David & Nathan Zellner; cinematographer: Adam Stone; editor: Melba Robichaux; music: The Octopus Project; cast: Robert Pattinson (Samuel Alabaster), Mia Wasikowski (Penelope), David Zellner (Parson Henry), Nathan Zellner (Rufus Cornell), Robert Forster (Old Preacher), Joseph Billingiere (Zacharia); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Chris Ohlson/David & Nathan Zellner; Magnolia Pictures; 2018)

"It plays out as an oddball western parody with a comical attitude to the Old West."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The siblings,
David & Nathan Zellner ("Kumiko"/"Treasure Hunter"), co-direct and co-write this minimalist, contemporary, off-beat western in a deadpan tone. It plays out as an oddball western parody with a comical attitude to the Old West (circa 1870), as the brothers hope to puncture holes in those familiar cowboy love tales.

Samuel (
Robert Pattinson), an affluent pioneer sporting gold teeth, is looking in the Old West (filmed in Oregon) for his Penelope (Mia Wasikowski). He comes to a frontier town to serenade his fiance with his guitar and to make a marriage proposal. He also wishes to present her with a gift of a miniature horse called Butterscotch. Parson Henry (David Zellner), a drunk, has been hired to accompany him. En route the men meet the hostile bearded mountain man Rufus (Nathan Zellner), a psychopath, who shoots at them. Samuel reveals to the parson that Rufus has kidnapped his Penelope (a one-dimensional character) and he's come to rescue her. We then learn the parson is not a parson, but dresses like one because an old preacher (Robert Forster) gave the clothes to him.

It's a cornball acquired taste western, one that had little appeal for me (it's too deranged, too meandering and hardly funny). Being silly is not necessarily being funny. I just found it inane except for a very few sketches that gave me a couple of reluctant chuckles. The uneven mix of bloody gore and continuous surprises left me wanting a Coen brothers film instead of this poor attempt at one.

REVIEWED ON 8/28/2018       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"