The Butterfly Queen wears a skull half-mask and has pink and purple dreadlocks. She is glaring.

Film Review: The Butterfly Queen

Film Reviews

The Butterfly Queen
Director: Liam O’Connor-Genereaux

WalrusDice Productions
Streaming: 1.12.24 on YouTube

Pitched as a “farmpunk fairytale,” The Butterfly Queen is a wonderfully earnest, unabashedly queer remix on the classic Alice in Wonderland premise. We follow Casey (Kade Pintado), an aspiring artist, and Robin (Sophia Anthony), an aspiring actor, who are childhood friends that have reconnected years after falling out. Nearly the moment they reunite, a stranger appears on Casey’s farm, stealing their art book and disappearing into a hidden, magical portal. Robin and Casey follow the stranger down the rabbit hole into a dimension of fantasy and danger where nothing is quite what it seems, presided over by the titular Butterfly Queen (Despoina). 

The Butterfly Queen’s opening act feels dizzyingly rushed, but it gains momentum as it goes, culminating in a thrilling, and surprisingly epic finale that brings the entire story into clearer focus. As is the case with many low-budget indie films, The Butterfly Queen occasionally stumbles over melodramatic readings of clunky dialogue, but it only adds to the film’s campy charm, in a sense, as raw passion and enthusiasm pour out of the screen.

The Butterfly Queen is at its best when it leans into its fantastical elements. Our heroes encounter all manner of colorful characters, ominous monsters, and odd creatures on their journey together. The film’s playful and whimsical nature calls back to fantasy adventures of decades past, such as Willow and Time Bandits, with one of the film’s most memorable set pieces involving an origami dragon brought to life with stop-motion animation. It’s in moments like this that The Butterfly Queen really shines, evoking a wondrous sense of adventure out of a small budget and a modest location. 

The Butterfly Queen is an endearing allegory about the difficulty of navigating your early adult years, particularly as a queer person. We are all stuck in the constant battle between past, present and future—sometimes creating monsters of our own imagining out of the people and memories we cherish—but we must hold tight to those we love. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to find our way out of the rabbit hole. –Seth Turek

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Read more about queer indie films:
The Stories We Still Need: Queer Filmmaking in Utah
A Celebration of Queer Cinema: Damn These Heels Film Festival