Movie Review: ‘Star Leaf’

Star Leaf attempts to blend the stoner comedy with elements of horror and science fiction, but the resulting film isn’t funny, scary, or even possible to make sense out of. Star Leaf is an incredibly strange film that has no problem rewriting its rules or using cheap plot twists frequently.

Star Leaf starts with an interesting premise, but doesn’t do very much with it. The film follows two PTSD-afflicted Afghanistan veterans who find alien marijuana in Washington, but anger the aliens when they try to take the weed with them. At first, I expected the film to actually deal with medical marijuana, as the drug is known to help victims of PTSD, but both the pot and the PTSD are treated like simple plot elements.

Julian Gavilanes plays James, and supplies one of the film’s few funny scenes as he gets way too high after smoking the Alien herb. Soon however, paranoia kicks in just as his friend decides to take parts of the plant home, something the mysterious hippie guide warned against, which leads to aliens stalking the small group.

The aliens look laughable bad, and are clearly actors in suits like the original Star Trek films. The group is also followed by a woman dressed as a wolf, a detail that makes little sense and ultimately builds up to a predictable twist. Several of the giant plot elements and twists make no sense. There’s trees that eat people, there’s devil-like characters, and there’s even time travel, none of which is explained or even makes sense in the movie.

The film’s portrayal of PTSD is very inconsistent, as James quickly flips between being friendly and being upset. Although mood changes are a symptom of PTSD, it makes little sense and is exploited multiple times for a few wild plot twists, none of which are particularly effective.

Although the film shows that it is partnered with a marijuana grower who makes a “Star Leaf” strain, the film actually seems to be somewhat against the drug. In the film, absolutely no good comes from the characters smoking besides some very forced realizations and breakthroughs, that ultimately aren’t even connected to the drug.

Although Star Leaf clocks in at under 80 minutes, and it’s 420-friendly premise may intrigue some audiences, the film is a weak horror film with a few funny elements. Some of the jokes in the early parts of the film land, but most of the laughs in Star Leaf are totally unintentional.

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