Dir: David Robert Mitchell (2010)
With It Follows garnering rave reviews and about to pounce on audiences, David Robert Mitchell‘s first feature acts like a disconnected coming of age film playing on small town horror film set ups. There are lake side keg parties, Ouija boards and hordes of skinny dipping teens ripe for slashing but The Myth of the American Sleepover is, instead, a hazy low-key coming of age story. Teenage crushes and adolescent mistakes are a constant of Mitchell’s world but he goes after them here in a lazy, up at noon, kind of way and the bite of his debut film, especially its climax, feels far too disaffected to make much of an impact.
Sofia (and Gia) Coppola’s examinations of youth hang over Mitchell’s similar stance on the meh-ness of being young but his film parks itself a little closer to Dazed and Confused than the Virgin Suicides, showing us a handful of fresh faces stumbling and fumbling around over one long night. Smartly he gives the proceedings a timeless quality, eliminating social media, cell phones and the American teenage over use of the word “like”. His characters dart around the night looking for boys on their push bikes; It’s the most striking quality about a film obviously set in the present day.
The plot is loose and flowing; The incredibly flirty Maggie (Claire Sloma) latches on to her older neighbour wishing she’d done more with her summer, searching for a kiss or more with nearly anyone who presents much interest. Claudia (Amanda Bauer) has a run in with a friends boyfriend and the old romantic Rob (Marlon Morton) searches the night for a vision in a short skirt he saw at the local supermarket.
It’s a simple American Graffiti influenced teen drama which shows Mitchell’s knack with young actors (Sloma as Maggie is particularly great) but there is a strange, almost oppressive tone to the film which seems so effortless. A dark make out spot in an abandon building is creepy enough in itself; Teens searching their way through the blackness looking for a thrill. It’s Mitchell hinting at the uncertainty of adulthood for those on the cusp but it’s blatantly obvious that the young director was leaning in the direction of a modern classic American horror film even when he was making The Myth of the American Sleepover.