Riddle of Fire

Riddle of Fire is a remarkable feature debut from writer/director Weston Razooli for a number of reasons, ranging from visual flare to its irreverent and hilarious sense of humour. However, the most memorable feat of the film is its pristine ability to portray childhood in a genuine way that transports the audience back to a time where boundless make-believe was a daily activity. What’s even more impressive is Razooli’s restraint to not call attention to this very obvious strength.

The movie, which features a trio of kids embarking on a quest in hopes to be granted video game privileges, is seen from a specific perspective. The camera isn’t manipulated to give audiences this point-of-view, but rather reflected from the performances that have been influenced by role-playing games of the Western and Medieval genres. The young primary leads, Hazel, Alice, and Jodie (played brilliantly by Charlie Stover, Phoebe Ferro, and Skyler Peters), take charge as plucky unlikely heroes in their personal mission to aid a sick Queen, erm, mother (Danielle Hoetmer). 

After a couple of side-quests that help them barter and scavenge for items to make a sought-out remedy (a local baker’s signature blueberry pie), the final mountain they must climb is the hunt for the recipe’s single speckled egg. The last carton of eggs is purchased and hoarded by a mysterious gang who are traveling to the woods. These adults, led by intimidating enchantress Anna-Freya (Lio Tipton of Broken Star and Crazy, Stupid, Love), are deliberately influenced from broad stereotypes that suggest their personalities may be a tad embellished. Other grown-up acquaintances around the movie’s hometown of Ribbon, Wyoming are drawn the same. Luckily, as if destiny favours the ambitions of babes, Anna-Freya’s pixie-esque daughter Petal (played brilliantly by Lorelei Olivia Mote) tags along with the ragtag kids and helps them with their poultry plan.

Crossing the nostalgia for rowdy treasure-hunting flicks of the 1980s with the sauciness of a softer South Park episode, Riddle of Fire is a multifaceted, offbeat summer comedy that has imagination by the load. Just like both of those sources, Riddle of Fire is made for teenagers and older movie goers who will appreciate the timing of a well-placed curse word, the sudden celebrations for silliness, and the time-traveling trip the movie will take them on. Shot on Kodak 16mm, the movie is also given a fuzzy, throwback look that physically embodies its influenced era, reflects the sticky weather, and gives the movie a dreamlike aura. 

Jake Mitchell’s cinematography and Razooli’s vision (the filmmaker identifies the movie under a newly-coined genre known as “neo-fairytale”) are fantastic examples of how Riddle of Fire is always maintaining, and succeeding at, multitasking. Much like this year’s equally absurd Hundreds of Beavers, the movie wants to entertain audiences and show its effort through every frame while, also, staying humble to its grassroots filmmaking. 


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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