Despite the fact that they don’t really hit theaters anymore, teen movies are doing just fine on digital platforms. But for every winner like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, there are countless other…not winners. And that brings us to the newly available teen film My Summer as a Goth. Which column will it claim?
A Summer in Gothland
image via 123 Go Films
No, not the island in Sweden. It’s actually set in Portland, but, you know what? Let’s start over.
16-year-old Joey (Natalie Shershow) is spending the summer with her grandparents, Margaret (Fayra Teeters) and Joseph (Jonas Israel). Her mom, Carissa (Sarah Overman), is an author busy with a book tour. And her dad just passed away.
It looks like it’s going to be a typical summer with her wacky meemaw and peepaw. Then she meets Victor (Jack Levis), the neighbors’ grandson. He is in competition for the biggest douchebag in the county. Joey is too young to recognize that, though, so she falls for his pretentious tortured act. (I wanna fight him so bad!)
Besides being a weapons-grade jackass, Victor is also a goth, which intrigues Joey. With the help of his friends, Pen (Jenny White) and Cob (Carter Allen), he gives Joey a goth princess makeover, complete with a montage. They dress her in vintage and make her up to look like Jeri as Count Crowley.
But while Victor dazzles Joey, everyone else can see that he’s not as taken with her. He treats her like she’s a new toy, but nothing stays new forever. And adults can see the heartbreak coming from miles away, but again, Joey’s not an adult. And this is a lesson she’ll have to learn, painful as it is.
My Summer as a Goth Review
If you’ve seen any teen romcoms, then obviously the bones of this story won’t come as much of a surprise. These movies are riddled with the insensitive teenage boy character, although usually he’s an athlete or the prom king. That he’s a goth adds an interesting texture, though, to the proceedings.
But please note: I know next to nothing about gothdom. Therefore, I can’t really judge whether Victor’s portrayal or the portrayal of the local goth scene rings true. And I don’t really think it matters, because it’s just trappings. Victor may feel the realest in the corpse paint, but his truest self is a jerk. (Just let me at him.)
That Joey can’t see it is very realistic and of a piece with her characterization. In spite of having a well-known mother, Joey seems a little sheltered for her age. In turn, the way she acts and acts out, at times, feels very real.
image via 123 Go Films
If there were an aspect to it that I didn’t like, then it would be the way the movie handles her father’s passing. It basically doesn’t, until he comes to her in a dream sequence. But it doesn’t feel earned, because we don’t really know their relationship.
I also wish there had been more of punk Antonio (Eduardo Reyes) in the film. Yes, he’s much more charming than Victor, but he’s also a more interesting character. As it is, the film’s characterizations were a bit more shallow than I would have liked.
But that’s to be expected, I guess, in a teen film. The same way you can expect a low-budget movie, like this one, to feel a little unfinished. There are some noticeable examples of that–see the band performance, where they’re not even pretending to sing–but more often than not, it comes across as earnest.
Because overall, this is a sweet little movie that will win over parents and (less jaded) teens alike. There are some laughs, some cringeworthy moments that made me say, “Oh, Lord–just leave!,” and a lot of heart. This movie doesn’t reinvent the teen movie wheel, but it’s a lovely way to spend some time.
My Summer as a Goth is available now on demand on digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu.
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featured image via 123 Go Films
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.