Three rascal children run afoul of an enigmatic coven in Weston Razooli’s whimsical neo-fairytale, which evokes a menagerie of esoteric genres and dreamy cult-film vibes.
Riddle of Fire
Take a ride with the Three Immortal Reptiles, a prepubescent gang of rascals who zigzag their dirt bikes through the woodsy realm of Ribbon, Wyoming, in pursuit of freewheelin’ fun. For Hazel (Charlie Stover), Alice (Phoebe Ferro), and Jodie (Skyler Peters), nothing promises more fun than the latest video game from Otomo, but when enjoyment of their successful (if illicit) procurement of a hallowed game console is stymied by a password-protected television, their mother tasks them with a quest to retrieve a blueberry pie in exchange for the magic words. The deceptively simple task compounds with complications, and the trio find themselves whisked away through woodlands dark, running afoul with the Enchanted Blade Gang, an enigmatic coven led by an honest-to-Lilith witch (Lio Tipton).
Writer-director Weston Razooli's dreamlike first feature conjures a neo-fairytale that evokes the sensation of tuning into a late-night broadcast of an obscure and wackadoo children’s film from another dimension. Amblin’ through a menagerie of esoteric genres and cult-film references, and unified by a precise, nostalgic mise en scène that might be described as “Wes Anderson’s Gummo,” its charisma crystalizes in the raw, unpracticed performances of its young cast. The sweet air of artifice to their gleeful recitations of Razooli’s charmingly verbose dialogue paradoxically assumes an endearing kind of meta-naturalism. Intermittent line-flubs are preserved, as are the winning infectious grins of kids having the best summer of their lives.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: coarse language