While the saying, “Live like there’s no tomorrow,” is great in theory, in reality it’s often not that easy. Most of us can’t just do whatever we’d like to do without worry of making sure we still have a job, bills are paid on time, things we have to take care of are taken care of, and so forth. Yes, in theory it’d be great to just live each day like it’s our last without concern for what tomorrow may bring, but that just isn’t the way things are. Well, at least not for those of us who aren’t seniors at Covington High School.
In Spontaneous the senior class of Covington High has a problem: their classmates keep randomly exploding. And we’re not talking like a bomb or anything, no, as Mara Carlyle (Katherine Langford) so eloquently puts it, they’re popping like balloons. One minute they’re wondering what they may wear to homecoming, and the next, *POP*, blood splatter – and little else to make one believe there was once a human in that spot – everywhere.
Okay, maybe that’s not quite true. That may have been the case for subject zero, Katelyn Ogden, but after that these teens were thinking less about homecoming and more about not being the next one to explosively liquify out of existence. Well, maybe not Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who, of course is still worried about randomly ceasing to exist; however, what he fears more is ceasing to exist without ever taking any chances – such as letting Mara know he’s had a crush on her for years.
Spontaneous is a coming-of-age dark comedy, that’s also a love story…with lots of blood. Now, while it is comedic (often in how Mara reacts to what’s going on around her) it’s also not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. It’s more a vibe the film gives off, where even though kids are dying at any given moment by literally exploding into red mist, it’s still light-hearted and fun in its delivery and style. This could’ve easily been the premise of a horror movie and taken a much darker turn, but Spontaneous instead chooses to focus it’s themes on life, how precious and fragile it is, and how you shouldn’t be afraid to take chances because who knows where they’ll lead.
The movie is based on the novel “Spontaneous” by Aaron Starmer, and it’s the light-hearted, yet incredibly terrifying and emotionally engaging angle both take that really make them work. For the most part we all have some sort of plans, we all want to live long lives, and most of us fear the unknown of what’s to come after our lives are over, or in short: we fear death. It’s that side of it that makes you feel terrible for these teenagers who are right on the cusp of turning 18 and beginning their lives, ready to take on the world when out of nowhere, *POP*.
It’s hard to even put yourself in their shoes, which is why it’s good that the story doesn’t just have a bunch of teens freaking out for 90-minutes, but instead has a vast array of characters (led by Langford and Plummer, who, it should be noted, have fantastic chemistry) who, in their own ways, quickly come to terms with how things are and instead try to deal with it as best they can. It allows for the tone of the film to remain comedic – albeit darkly – and for the audience to have a smile on their face while focusing on the journey these characters are taking, instead of it feeling like a run-of-the-mill slasher flick where we’re just waiting for everyone to get picked off before the killer is revealed and stopped by the final girl.
Spontaneous won’t be for everyone, though I won’t say if you don’t like it’s because you’re not smart enough to understand the nuance or anything like that. I just feel that it’s the type of film that will be polarizing with audiences, as some won’t like the comedic angle taken, and others may not like the teenagers violently exploding at random – and, well, yeah, some may just want to turn their brain off while watching a silly movie about kids at a high school blowing up all over their classmates, and Spontaneous is more layered and heartfelt than that, so if you go in with that mindset you’ll likely be disappointed with how the story is told and are better off checking out the latest Blumhouse offering.
I will say that it’s often a critique on Hollywood about how they never try anything new, or how they just pump out sequel after sequel of the same blockbusters and it’s tiresome. Well, Spontaneous is anything but ordinary. It’s a film that should be seen and appreciated for its unique take on living life, and just how quickly it can all come to an *POP*
4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:
The film looks solid on this DVD transfer, though it’d truly shine if it had gotten the Blu-ray treatment. Still, it looks good and isn’t a film that requires a perfect picture to be enjoyed. Overall, the colours look sharp and the blacks don’t have any distracting muddiness to them, so that’s a win. The audio transfer is strong, with the dialogue coming through incredibly clear, the sound effects keeping the viewer on edge (when will the next pop take place?!) and everything mixing together wonderfully to deliver a great listening experience.
There are unfortunately no special features to be had this time around. Much like the lack of a Blu-ray release, I feel like this is the type of film that could build up a cult following through this initial DVD release, which could eventually lead to a 10th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray, where we get to hear from writer/director Brian Duffield, as well as some of the actors involved, and possibly get a commentary track or two. But for now, we’ll just have to make due with only having the film itself to enjoy.
Paramount Pictures Presents Spontaneous. Written & Directed by: Brian Duffield. Based on the novel by: Aaron Starmer. Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Yvonne Orji, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel. Running time: 101 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on DVD: Nov. 10, 2020.
Tags: Aaron Starmer, Brian Duffield, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Katherine Langford, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel, Spontaneous, Yvonne Orji