“This is this is the story of how my town, Salem, lost its motherfucking mind,”
Writer/director Sam Levinson returns to the Sundance Film Festival with an unflinching, unrelenting, undeniable picture of what it’s like to be alive and online in today’s society.
A film that harmonizes with the ever so important #metoo movement, here, we have a timely tale of teen girls who tackle everything from self-righteousness, misogyny, unashamed sexuality, and the roots of toxic masculinity. Primed to spark an abundance of conversation – It is without surprise that Neon snatched the distribution rights for a lofty $10 million, the biggest deal of this year’s festival.
Hitting all the essential genre cylinders, a decent parallel to this film would be if you crossed Mean Girls, The Crucible, and The Purge, all in one. Wait what? Yeah… you read that right.
Things get underway when Salem’s mayor has his iPhone data leaked, outing the married conservative as a pretty darn kinky homosexual. The town is so fervent in calling for his blood, he ultimately commits suicide.
It only gets worse once the amiable high school principal (Colman Domingo) has innocent photos of his daughter released as well. The town, idiotically, calls for his resignation whilst deeming him a dangerous pedophile – While more and more lives get ruined, the more confidential records and files become leaked.
A dazzling quartet of high school girls become our heroines as the story unfolds. These friendly darlings are only seen as controversial because they’re proud of their sexuality, with Odessa Young, the lead, shown wearing short skirts that get her into trouble. However, we soon discover her lecherous affair with the married man next-door (Joel Mchale), a fact that puts not only her, but her friends into much peril.
It all comes to a head when the town goes absolutely berserk, with citizens donning masks and carrying around machine guns looking for someone to blame. Young, and her three friends, played by Abra, Suki Waterhouse, and transgender model Hari Nef (a remarkable performance) wind up in their cross-fire, being hunted through town and forced to defend themselves – Something they prove to be pretty fucking good at.
Sam Levinson’s sophomore film (Another Happy Day) is a clever and well-shot roller-coaster ride layered with themes of feminism, redefining societal norms, and encouraging people to live and speak their personal truths.
A truly ravishing and contemporary take on the Salem Witch Trials – Though, stopping these four women who demolish patriachism one fragile male ego at a time… is a feat far more difficult than ridding John Proctor.
By Brandon Colón