Horror writer Frank sits alone in his apartment trying to drink his depression away when two lovely burlesque dancers show up at his door, claiming to be fans. Being the nice guy that he is, Frank invites them in for some small entertainment. The ladies promise to make Frank's dreams come true but things take a dark and sinister path as they work on fulfilling their promise.
"Burlesque" is Dominic and DANK Films' follow up to "Bad Habits" and much like its predecessor, it is a dark ride through a demented mind. Only this time instead of a nun's nightmare journey in a seedy underworld, we become involved in a horror writer's dark world that changes when two strange women show up at his doorstep. Much like "Bad Habits", "Burlesque" is a psychological game with the audience that's tied up in mystery but with a neo-noir twist instead of surrealism.
"Burlesque" is one of those movies that on the outside appears to have a simple story: Frank, a man who is famous for his stories of macabre, is a heavy drinker due to his life being in turmoil. Then two young and beautiful burlesque dancers, Tammy and Veronica, show up at his door in the middle of the night. The two say that they are nothing more than fans of Franks. As the night wears on it is clear the two are more than just that as they force him to face his inner demons and question himself. The head games ensue and people start turning up dead and Frank finds himself involved in what feels like one of his own twisted stories.
That is the general premise of the movie but when you actually watch "Burlesque" it feels like you are watching two movies: The actual movie of Frank, Tammy, and Veronica and the journey these three characters go on. Then there is the movie within the movie that is designed to play with the audience of sorts. "Burlesque" uses the 'what is reality' aspect to show the mental disintegration of our protagonist but also as a way of getting to the audience. The way Dominic goes about it is actually very clever and while talking about it would help in demonstrating the interaction aspect, it would also spoil a bit of the movie. Instead I will say that because the movie is about a man who is involved in writing horror movies and books, our lovely antagonists (Tammy and Veronica) use Frank's subject matter to get into his head. They make him question why he writes out these typical horror storylines, why characters do what they do (particularly why women are objectified), and the general clichés of the genre. Because these three characters find themselves repeating the same offenses (for lack of a better term), the questions that are raised about horror are being directed towards the audience as well as Frank. It becomes a very interesting game between audience and movie as it feels like "Burlesque" is breaking the 4th wall, but it never actually does.
Because the movie has such an intriguing way of indiscreetly playing with the audience, it makes the writing of "Burlesque" and the talent of Dominic really stand out and become a shining point of the movie. The actual movie itself also shows the writing talent, because it is essentially a character film. While "Bad Habits" had intriguing characters and the lead's mind was the focal point of the movie, there were events that also helped to keep the movie going. In "Burlesque" it's all about the games that the women play with Frank so quite a bit of the movie boils down to a pair of talking heads, but the writing and the dialogue exchanges keep the movie interesting and entertaining. Plus, as much as I appreciated the audience interaction, the point of "Burlesque" is the journey these characters go on and it is an interesting trip with some very satisfying twists and turns to make it anything but typical.
While I found the writing to be the part that stood out the most in "Burlesque" but overall it is another solid production from DANK Films. It features another quality cast as all of the actors did a great job in their roles, especially for another no-budget indie movie. Then of course everyone behind the scenes as well since everything from the lighting to the music score helps sell the noir-atmosphere of this Australian thriller. Even though it features a short runtime, I think that shows the competence of people behind the camera because the movie does what it needs to do and tells the story in a fitting time. Had this movie been any longer it would have resulted in a padded runtime and definitely would have made it less effective, since not every movie needs to be feature length. I look forward to DANK Films next project and hopefully both "Bad Habits" and "Burlesque" find there way to the DVD market as both deserve to be seen.