Movie Review: Foxfur
The main objective of the films of Damon Packard seems to be to induce a nervous breakdown in the viewer. The chaotic rush of plot, the flashing special effects, the densely layered sound design, the complete abandonment of logical cohesion add up to provide a literal experience of the old hyperbolic catchphrase “senses-shattering”!
Yet for all of Packard’s blustery whirlwind of pop culture references that he layers upon layers in each outing, it’s clear that the heart of his films comes from a deeply personal place, whether it’s the spiritual and cultural anxieties felt by the main character — played by himself — in Reflections of Evil or the woes experienced by a sci-fi filmmaker in SpaceDisco One.
Foxfur, Packard’s latest offering, revolves around a heretofore unconfessed obsession of his: UFO conspiracies. Well, who’s to say if it’s an “interest” or an “obsession,” but either way the film is jam-packed with well-known hot button topics and individuals involved in the field. However, one doesn’t need to know any arcane UFO abduction theories to enjoy the film. (This reviewer didn’t and only discovered that many of the names and events referenced in the film actually exist through post-viewing research.)
Instead, the film revolves around a young woman named Foxfur. We meet her while editing a rap video in Final Cut Pro with some clients, but soon she is panic stricken at the thought that two of the biggest names in UFO conspiracy theories, David Icke and Richard Hoagland, have gone missing.
Sensing that something afoul is afoot, Foxfur pays Khris (Khris Kaneff), a pudgy, middle-aged male friend of hers, to drive her to a New Age Los Angeles bookstore called The Bodhi Tree for answers. (The store is a real one in West Hollywood that has since shuttered.) There she finds Icke (Rigg Kennedy) safe and sound answering phones for the store and another conspiracist, Bob Lazar (Bob Ellis), flipping through the stacks.
The trip to and scenes within the Bodhi Tree take up about the first half of this approximately hourlong film. Although, a large section of that half includes the film’s biggest non sequitur, an absolutely hilarious sequence in which Khris runs afoul of know-nothing employees at big box retail stores.
Also, up through the first half of the film, so far two different actresses have played the part of Foxfur. One actress (Angel Corbin) calls Khris for the ride to The Bodhi Tree, but when he shows up, Foxfur is played by a different actress (Paris Wagner). The film makes a joking reference to the switch, but following the trip to and the scenes within the Bodhi Tree with Wagner as Foxfur, the film eventually fragments even further with four more actresses taking over the role before the conclusion. They are, in order, Cassandra Nuss, Tessie Tracey, Cassie Yeager and Sarah De La Isla.
The switching of actresses is most likely a creative choice borne by the film’s budgetary and shooting limitations. Packard, as his obsessive fans know, has been documenting the making of Foxfur online and posting scenes to YouTube for the past couple of years.
Foxfur‘s fragmentary nature, though, is perfectly suited to the film’s themes of time travel, space travel and other dimensional activity. On the one hand, the film can be perfectly carved up into short little film chunks that could possibly exist on their own. But as the character Foxfur travels through various realities in her different incarnations, the overall plot is consistent enough throughout so that the film works as a cohesive whole.
In the early scenes with Wagner, Foxfur watches black streaks race across the sky as reality around her begins to disintegrate. This later pays off when Tracey as Foxur takes a wild, perhaps interdimensional, bus ride that lands her back in 1982 where Yeager as Foxfur encounters the outdoor sets of M*A*S*H and Wizards & Warriors in the Malibu Canyon. It wouldn’t be a Packard film, either, without at least some pop culture, both familiar and obscure, thrown in somewhere.
Anyway, trying to explain a Damon Packard film and to describe the enjoyment of it, is quite the difficult task. There are so many side ideas and plotlines sprinkled, stitched into and strewn about Foxfur, it’s a nigh impossible task to document it all. Like his previous films, Foxfur is best thought of as a total sensory overload of unbridled cinematic and narrative creativity.
Instead of trying to limit his imagination by his budgetary constraints, instead Packard throws in a little bit of everything he’s got and swirls it around with a steroid-injected soundtrack and blinding special effects. So, when the blonde Foxfur finds herself a brunette in a Robin Hood-eque costume in 1982 being pursued by obese bus drivers and bow-and-arrow slinging fuzz monsters, you either go with the flow or not at your own peril.
The Foxfur character, in all her incarnations, is also a very appealing main character, a young woman buffeted around reality by forces beyond her control, yet strongly keeping her wits about her to make sense of it all. In that regard, she’s the perfect representative of Packard’s audience within the film itself.
Watch the Foxfur movie trailer: