Mirk Riders (2011) – By Cary Conley

Early on in this 16-minute short, the lead singer of the all-female speed metal band Mirk Riders states, "…all roads eventually lead to the same place." And the place lead singer Eve is talking about is a dark place indeed.

Mirk Riders is a gritty little film about a strange night three band members end up spending in the middle of the desert when their car breaks down. Eve passes out in the back of the car and much of the story is told through her memories and dreams. Her mind keeps wandering back to a cheap video of an empty chair as the centerpiece in an otherwise empty room. But as the desert night unfolds, the fragments of her memory–her dreams? her nightmares?– continue to be assembled and add to that chair, eventually filling the room with the full tragedy of what occurred nearly nine months before. This revelation for the viewer is supplied as a nifty and nihilistic twist that brings Eve’s earlier statement full circle–and horrifies the viewer with its implication. To say more would be to give away too much and lessen the impact for future viewers.

This darkly downbeat oddity, suitably filmed in grainy black-and-white, has no real linear plot line and stylistically is reminiscent of many underground films, including Eraserhead as well as the films of Richard Kern. Not since Combat Shock has such a depressing vision of life been seen on celluloid. The three girls play their brand of thrash metal in one seedy bar after another, drinking and abusing drugs, fighting with each other, with their crew, with their manager. They make next to nothing and drive from one gig to another in a jalopy that is more junk than car. The girls don’t seem to care even about each other and can barely hide their disdain for the others in the band. Even the memories of sex with an old boyfriend that Eve has is devoid of feeling. It’s rough, animalistic, and without pleasure. The atmosphere of hopelessness for all involved is thick and palpable.

I’m not entirely sure what the message of the film is, but rest assured it is not a positive one. It seems that Eve is trapped in the vicious circle of life, she and the people around her doomed to end up in the same dark place regardless of which road is traveled..because they all eventually end up in the same place.

Mirk Riders premiered last year in London’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival and is currently unavailable to general viewers as it continues to make the festival rounds. However, if you have a chance to catch this film at a local festival and don’t mind having your mind branded by the hellish vision that is Mirk Riders, by all means try to track it down; it is a film you won’t soon forget. Bonus points: for the cameo of cult favorite Jim Van Bebber, the original King of Nihilism. For more information you can become a Facebook fan of the film here.