Extremely unique and incredibly well crafted

by Martin Hafer

Welcome to another edition of my “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” series — articles about films that are so odd, so groundbreaking and so downright bizarre that you have to see them to believe they’re possible. This time, I would like to focus on a wonderful twisted film by Carter Mays titled Inside Scarlett. I had a chance not only to see the movie but to talk with Carter about his remarkable creation. Unlike many film directors, Mays really seems to be trying to create his own vision and doesn’t seem terribly concerned about making a film that fits into the mainstream. And, in this case his vision is definitely unique…but it’s a good unique and a film you might find very enjoyable despite the strangeness of the plot.

The story is about a young woman named Scarlett–played amazingly well by Isabelle Gardo. The role is incredibly demanding yet she and Mays are able to create a captivating portrait of a woman living inside her own insane nightmarish world. The woman is an Agoraphobe–afraid to leave her own home and is trapped there because of her fears. But Scarlett’s problems go way beyond that, as she is Schizophrenic as well…brought on, at least in part, by a Post-Traumaic Stress Disorder. Someone or something hurt this woman and she’s unable to cope with the pain. Through much of the film you see Scarlett’s world through her eyes–hallucinations and all. Because of this, you never are sure what’s real and what isn’t. At other times, you see the world from the viewpoint of her father, her father’s mistress or an odd friend of Scarlett who is a furry. What is a furry? That’s a person who likes to dress up in animal costumes and may also do so during sexual encounters. Yes, it does have an unusual cast to say the least.

Inside Scarlett
Written & Directed by
Carter Mays
Natassia Halabi, Arielle Raycene, Annie Read
Release Date
Martin’s Grade: A

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As for the story it’s so weird you might just start to think I’ve lost my mind (some might say that the jury is still out on this…especially after they see this film). Scarlett becomes very sick and she vomits repeatedly. Soon the audience starts to realize that she is pregnant…but how can that be? After all, she almost never leaves her house and who could the father be?! While Scarlett is slow in accepting this, she slowly confabulates a story to explain her condition. In her mind, her stuffed animal, Chicken, must be the father! Soon, you see Scarlett and Chicken having conversations about this and he readily admits he got her pregnant and they plan on their future together! Mays and his staff did a great job in these scenes and they created a chicken puppet which was controlled by a puppeteer who laid inside a couch–using his arm to animate the character. This must have been grueling but the end result is hilarious, weird and captivating all at the same time. But what makes all this special is that the more you watch of the film, the more various pieces to the puzzle of the pregnancy fall into place and the audience is encouraged to soon trying to make their own determinations about what is happening. But Mays doesn’t make the mystery easy and he tosses in many items to confuse and misdirect you. He also allows for multiple interpretations as to what you’ve just seen once the movie ends. Some might not like this, but I loved it because if you see this film with your friends, you no doubt will spend a lot of time debating what really occurred as well as what it all means. And the final scene is just … incredible!

My biggest reason for recommending Inside Scarlett is the way Mays crafted the film. It’s often non-linear and episodic–but it never comes off as cheap or choppy. Despite using many edits and making the story a bit confusing at first, it all comes together beautifully. It does all begin to make sense after a while and you realize that Mays took a very, very complicated story and interwove the pieces together like some amazing tapestry.

Carter Mays

This was not an easy film to construct yet Mays was determined to get the look and style of the movie just right. Now if you think perhaps I am a lone weirdo who likes the film, the audience at the screening responded enthusiastically to the picture as well. Additionally, the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival awarded Inside Scarlett with two of its top awards including Best Screenplay and Best Director! It’s strange beyond belief but it’s also exquisitely made and is a film you just cannot stop watching. I can’t wait to see more from this man and will soon watch his first movie, Bad Chicken, because it, along with Inside Scarlett, is part of a Chicken trilogy, with the third installment coming out sometime in the near future.