- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Lone

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Music / Experimental / Arthouse / Drama

Language: English

Runtime: 52 min

Director: Mark Pellington

Writer: Mark Pellington (story) & Chelsea Wolfe (lyrics & dialogue)


Like a dream, dead memories flow across the screen, dealing with themes of life, death and loneliness - the past and the future.

Our thoughts:
It doesn't come as a surprise that Mark Pellington, mostly known as a music video director, is the one to direct the feature length Chelsea Wolfe music video. I did not know, however, that he is also responsible for a few feature films of varying success. Titles such as "The Mothman Prophecies", "Henry Poole Is Here" and "I Melt With You" all have their fanbase. I certainly don't have a close relationship with them, but I have seen them (not the latter) and have mostly good memories of them. With "Lone" I certainly opened up my eyes to him as a director, since I didn't know that those three movies were made by the same director.

When it comes to Chelsea Wolfe I can't tell you much. Apparently she has recently been featured in a "Game of Thrones" trailer which garnered some attention, but for me "Lone" is a first. My initial reaction is curiosity, because while the music itself isn't what I find myself listening to, her personality, creativity and urge to experiment fascinates me almost on par with Björk (an artist I can rarely listen to but appreciate in other areas). Note that this review will not be extensive when it comes to her music, though it is as important as the visuals, because I am simply not a music reviewer.

"Lone" came about after Mark Pellington met with Chelsea Wolfe about making a music video. He got an idea about turning it into a feature and, like some music video feature films before it, it's not to be watched because of the story. The movie isn't about anything specific as much as it is based on notes from Chelsea Wolfe, which she wrote down while recording her album "Pain is Beauty". Thus there might be a ton of meaning behind what you experience here, but there isn't a storyline to directly follow. Not a flat one, at least. "Lone" does explore many themes, and is heavy on both visual and audible atmosphere.

Trying to dig into the "story" (idea?) of this feature long music video to have printed for all of you to read leaves me in an awkward state as this is better experienced first hand than through writing. What I got out of the experience was an experiment around the themes of loss and death. Mainly, at least. It seems to be based around the death of a mother and wife, the agony that comes with loss and the eventual loneliness that most people face when everything around them shatters.

Chelsea Wolfe's blend of genres such as post-punk, folk music, ambience and drone metal aren't adding much joy to these already depressing themes, but that's clearly the whole point. The music does go perfectly with the visuals - like a music video should. Her music is interesting and many songs sound different from the last, so in that sense I think her music is worth more than most. Still, this isn't completely my taste in music. I am all for depressing and experimental music and have no real issues with "goth", but in the end her music isn't something I will listen to - unless I check her music videos out. That seems to be when they work the best for me.

As this review mostly steps around in mud trying to find the right ways to state my opinion, I will try to at least be straight forward with what didn't completely work. First of all, it is a music video (or a series of music videos), so that's not a problem. But at times the visual content was very repetitive, coming back several times over without adding much food for thought since the last time that the same shot appeared. I can see why it was done, and it reminds you of certain things that you might have forgotten by the time you reach the end due to how many odd things you stumble upon along the way. But it takes away even more of what could have been a storyline to follow, rather than just a handful of ideas flowing past us. This is not me saying that a conventional storyline was needed, but giving you the sense of time passing could have helped.

"Lone" is an interesting feature to sit through and a nice break from the usual stuff that I review, I think that Mark Pellington's imagery added a lot to Chelsea Wolfe's already unique music. It plays out like the last sensible dream of a person's life, and within that is a lot of anxiety and remorse. And of course, loneliness. Whether you interpret "Lone" differently or not doesn't change that it's an experience rather than a story. With excellent cinematography and dreamlike aesthetics, this is a mindful journey worth taking even when it gets repetitive. If this sounds interesting to you then I suggest you check out the music video for Chelsea Wolfe's "Feral Love", as that's an excerpt of the feature.

Positive things:
- Great cinematography. I should've stated this more clearly in the review, but I choose to focus elsewhere.
- The visuals complement the music beautifully (and the other way around).
- A rather gloomy experience.
- A collaboration of two interesting artists.

Negative things:
- Gets a bit repetitive.
- It's not entirely my taste of music.
- Has its share of pretentiousness.

Gore: 1.5/5
Nudity: 1.5/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 3.5/5
Comedy: 0/5

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