October 1, 2012

Filthy Review - 'My Sucky Teen Romance'

[This review was originally posted in August 2011, and it has since received a Blu-ray and DVD release, so now is as good of a time as ever to repost it!]

My Sucky Teen Romance (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

It would be remiss of me not to make some sort of mention that My Sucky Teen Romance is directed by the very same director, who at the age of 12, made her feature movie debut with the undead flick Pathogen back in 2006. By the same token it is also unfair to draw too much attention to this. By all accounts the documentary Zombie Girl: The Movie already did this, and I recommend checking it out if you get the chance, following as it does the making of said movie Pathogen.

Emily Hagins’ third feature length movie, following 2009’s The Retelling, is a refreshing and almost familiar feeling genre movie that leans far more towards comedy than it does towards horror, even though the majority of the cast have an aversion to sunlight. At its heart it has all the trappings of a horror movie with its primarily teenage cast, vampires, blood and the occasional flying intestine. What it doesn’t focus on though is the scares, this is instead replaced by laughs and a knowing nod and a wink in the script. The question is does it work? Short answer is yes, and the long answer is yes for the most part.

My Sucky Teenage Romance opens in the 1950’s and manages to throw an unexpected curve ball at us straight from the get-go. It sets the scenes that yes there are vampires and vampires are what we are going to get. Fast-forward 60 years or so, and some psychedelic opening credits and we join Kate and Allison as they make plans to visit Space-con, it’s out of this world I tell you, which is THE convention to go to.

Also planning on attending is Paul, a comic book fan whose costume proves to be prophetic. Add to this an Edward-a-like vampire, Harry Knowles (he gets about doesn’t he?) and other assorted vampiric action and you get yourself a very cool little flick.

The first thing about this movie that surprised me was the look of the movie. I had been lead to believe that I would be watching a low-budget movie, and I was, but believe me when I say that this looks far more professional and accomplished than many movies I have seen with far bigger budgets and bigger names attached. Hell, even the effects in this flick put to shame far more expensive movies.

Budget is, and I have mentioned this before, purely irrelevant though when it comes to enjoyment of a movie and, more importantly, whether the damned thing works or not. What does matter is whether the story is one we want to follow and whether it is well written or not. Well, the story does have many familiar elements, we get winks and nods to other movies right from the start, but it is in the writing itself where My Sucky Teenage Romance lifts itself up above the snarling pack. The script is witty, sharp and above all else funny. After all it is supposed to be a comedy. I did mention that, didn’t I?

The primarily young cast handles the material well, and although their inexperience does show on occasion, it is quite apparent that they all seem to be having fun with the material. The stand-out for me was probably Tony Vespe as Mark, who seemed to nail geek perfectly, but the entire cast all do enough to help bring the story to life, or undead as the case may be.

Where the movie stalled slightly for me was in the pacing. Now, this is only a short movie that runs to around 70 odd minutes, yet I found that around two thirds of the way through it seemed to run out of steam slightly, before picking up again for the climax. Now this may be down to the fact that it does come sprinting out of the gate, so to speak, and just ended up needing to take a break for air. Regardless, it’s a minor fault and didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

Director Emily Hagins certainly has an eye for movie-making and I hope she continues with her chosen career path as I can only see good things to come from her in the future. My Sucky Teenage Romance is a raw but totally engaging movie that came across to me as an early Kevin Smith-esque movie for the anti-Twilight generation. Vampires don’t always sparkle, sometimes they suck. And you know I mean that in a good way.

My Sucky Teen Romance is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Dark Sky Films.

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