Damsel (2018 film)

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Damsel (2018 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
  • David Zellner
  • Nathan Zellner
Produced by
CinematographyAdam Stone
Edited byMelba Robichaux
Music byThe Octopus Project
Great Point Media
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 23, 2018 (2018-01-23) (Sundance)[1]
  • June 22, 2018 (2018-06-22) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$322,448[2]

Damsel is a 2018 American Western black comedy film written and directed by David Zellner and Nathan Zellner. It stars Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska.[3][4] The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2018[5] and was released on June 22, 2018, by Magnolia Pictures and Great Point Media.


Samuel Alabaster, an affluent pioneer, intends to propose to and marry the love of his life, Penelope. In town he hires Parson Henry, a drunkard, to officiate it. Together, the two venture across the American frontier with a miniature horse named Butterscotch, a wedding present for Penelope.

During the journey, Samuel and Henry run into Rufus Cornell, who attempts to shoot and kill Samuel before running off. Samuel chases after Rufus, only for the latter to fall off a cliff to his apparent death. Samuel confesses to Henry that Penelope had been kidnapped by Rufus and Rufus' brother Anton, and that he seeks to rescue her. Henry agrees to help him for more money.

Reaching the Cornell home, Samuel attempts to sneak around the property as Henry watches from afar. Anton exits the house, and Henry panics. He fatally shoots Anton in the head. Samuel rushes up to the corpse and shoots it some more.

Penelope exits the house and holds Samuel at gunpoint. Samuel attempts to propose to her but she rejects him and declares that she hates him and loved Anton. In grief, Samuel commits suicide. Penelope takes Henry as her prisoner before blowing up the house.

Venturing back toward the town, Penelope and Henry run into Rufus, who survived his fall and was able to track Henry and Penelope. Rufus attempts to take Penelope as his wife, but she rejects him. He then decides to murder her and Henry but is shot and killed with an arrow by Zachariah Running Bear. That night, Henry discusses his desire to learn of the Native culture and asks to join Zachariah on his journey. The next day, Henry and Penelope awaken to discover that Zachariah has left.

Penelope frees Henry, who hugs her and apologizes for what has happened. However, before Penelope leaves with Butterscotch, Henry spontaneously proposes to her. She throws a large stone in his face and rides off.



David and Nathan Zellner assembled the three principal cast members along with 27 crewmembers and 70 extras. Filming was set to last 32 days. Most of the film was shot in Utah, which provided tax incentives for the production.[6] Its budget was less than $5 million USD.[7]

In an interview, Pattinson described the film as, "a kind of slapstick comedy."[8]


Principal photography began on July 11, 2016 at Wasatch Range in Summit County, Utah.[9] Filming moved to Oregon in late August 2016. Scenes were filmed with Pattinson and Wasikowska on the Oregon Coast on August 25, 2016,[10] after which filming was wrapped.[11]


In February 2017, David Zellner confirmed via an Instagram post that The Octopus Project would compose the score for the film.[12] In March 2017, Pattinson himself confirmed that he is also contributing to the music of the film.[13]

In February 2018, it was announced that Russell Mael of the band Sparks was cast in a singing role.[14]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68% based on 117 reviews, and an average rating of 6.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The beautifully filmed Damsel injects the western genre with a welcome dose of humor and some unexpected twists, although its stately pace may frustrate impatient viewers."[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16]


  1. ^ a b "Damsel". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Archived from the original on 19 January 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Damsel (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Nordine, Michael (July 13, 2016). "Robert Pattinson to Headline the Zellner Brothers' Western 'Damsel,' Their Followup to 'Kumiko'". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  4. ^ Newman, Nick (July 13, 2016). "Robert Pattinson Leading Zellner Brothers' Western 'Damsel'; Mia Wasikowska in Talks to Join". The Film Stage. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  5. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Gorrell, Mike (June 16, 2016). "Six films offered state incentives of $2.6M". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  7. ^ Heid, Jason (July 2018). "The Zellner Brothers Ride Again". Austin Monthly. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  8. ^ Perez, Rodrigo (March 21, 2017). "Robert Pattinson Says He's Making A "100% Improvised Movie" & Creating Music For A Slapstick Comedy". The Playlist. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  9. ^ Jackson, Melissa (June 9, 2016). "Utah Film Commission Selects Six New Projects for Incentives". Utah Film Commission. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  10. ^ "'Twilight' star films on local beaches". The Coos Bay World. August 31, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  11. ^ Zellner, David (August 26, 2016). "I've been off the grid this summer shooting our next feature out in the wilderness and we've just wrapped. A western called "DAMSEL". So much gratitude for the kind, talented and wonderful people who joined us on this crazy fun adventure. Can't wait to share it when it's done". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  12. ^ Zellner, David (February 19, 2017). "The Octopus Project did the amazing soundtrack for Kumiko and are currently working with us on the soundtrack for our next feature, "Damsel". They have an upcoming tour and album called Memory Mirror(in snazzy colored vinyl), check it out! #theoctopusproject #kumikothetreasurehunter #damsel #zellnerbros". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  13. ^ Ivan-Zadeh, Larushka (March 15, 2017). "Rob's weird world". Metro. DMG Media. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  14. ^ SPARKS [@sparksofficial] (February 2, 2018). "Russell has a cameo role as the "Prairie Crooner" in the new offbeat Western film 'Damsel' directed by the great @zellnerbros ✨ The rumor has it that Russell's part includes... wait for it... some yodeling! www.imdb.com/title/tt5881528/ …" (Tweet). Retrieved February 2, 2018 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Damsel (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  16. ^ "Damsel Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 1, 2018.

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