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My Sucky Teen Romance(2011)
SpaceCON's supposed to be the most fun weekend of the year...and it was until a real-life vampire robbed the local grocery store and bit Paul and Cindy, turning them into bloodsuckers.
For more about My Sucky Teen Romance and the My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray release, see My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Elaine Hurt, Patrick Delgado, Santiago Dietche, Lauren Lee
Director: Emily Hagins
» See full cast & crew
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray Review
Has potential, needs polishing.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 18, 2012
The behind-the-scenes hook of My Sucky Teen Romance—and we have to start here—is that is was written and directed by an actual teenager, then-eighteen and now nineteen-year-old Emily Hagins. Here's what's even crazier; this is her third feature. At the tender age of twelve, the precocious Austin, Texas-based filmmaker completed her first movie, 2006's Pathogen, which premiered at the Alamo Drafthouse and was heartily trumpeted by Ain't It Cool News founder and fellow Austinite, Harry Knowles. The genre-obsessed Hagins followed up this teenybopper zombie flick in 2009 with The Retelling—a ghost story—and now, with My Sucky Teen Romance, she's taking on vampires. Specifically, spoofing the teen vampire craze of Twilight and whatever other sanguinary young adult fictions on which the kids these days are engorging themselves.
Before we go any further, let's all give Hagins a virtual high-five, head nod, or slow clap for having the admirable drive and boundless energy to write and direct three films before turning twenty. This is a remarkable accomplishment for someone of any age, and if 80% of success is just showing up—as Woody Allen put it—then the odds are certainly in favor of Hagins accomplishing a lot in the future. She's already shown up. She's doing what she wants to do now. That said—and you had to know there was a that said coming—as much as it pains me to say it, My Sucky Teen Romance just...isn't...very...good. Is it good for an eighteen-year-old filmmaker? Well, sure, but that metric ultimately doesn't mean much to an audience hoping to be entertained. When it comes down to it, the film feels like a high school drama class project—amateurish, goofily acted, tedious—that happens to have been blessed with a budget of a few thousand dollars.
I'll give it this—My Sucky Teen Romance does have a genuine youthful exuberance that Hollywood can't quite capture with twentysomethings playing high schoolers. This is the real, gawky/awkward deal, so to speak, with a cast of age- appropriate unknowns. Our heroine is Kate (Elain Hurt), a recent graduate who's about to leave Austin for college. Her last hope for responsibility-free summer fun is the upcoming SpaceCon, a "sci-fi, fantasy, horror, you-name-it convention" held at a local hotel. But there's trouble in nerd paradise. A Robert Pattinson look-a-like vamp (Devin Bonneé) is on the loose in town, and he's recently "turned" Paul (Patrick Delgado)—a geeky supermarket clerk who has eyes for Kate—along with Paul's cashier coworker, Cindy (Lauren Vunderink).
With his newly pallid skin and pointy teeth, Paul goes to the cos-play convention dressed as Dracula—think of this as a junior Shadow of the Vampire, with an actual vampire disguised as one—hoping to learn enough about vampiric lore from the geek panelists to reverse his transformation. He shyly keeps this rather important bit of knowledge from his crush, however, and when he accidentally bites Kate on the neck, she too develops a thirst for platelets, plasma, and hemoglobin. With help from a handful of friends—and Harry Knowles as himself, delivering a lecture on the vampire mythos—Paul and Kate learn that in order to revert to their normal human selves they must a.) stake the vamp who made them and 2.) not drink any blood. If you're following along here, you can rightly surmise that Paul—since he's already tasted the nectar of Kate's neck—is thoroughly screwed. Will love triumph over all? My lips are sealed.
You can see the potential here—Hagins clearly understands and appreciates the horror genre—but the film needs some serious polishing. My Sucky Teen Romance is rough around all its edges. The script doesn't have the fangs to really satirize the teen vamp craze, and the pacing slackens and surges, with too many drawn-out, expository scenes. (This is a long 77 minutes.) And then there are the teen performers, who are, well, teen performers. The whole project has a raggedy homemade vibe that's more appreciable in theory—you want to like it—than it is in execution. It's hard to rag on the movie, especially because it's made with such enthusiasm, but viewing it is a little like watching a piano recital with a forced smile as a middle schooler fumbles lovably through a Chopin sonata. It's not quite there, you know?
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray, Video Quality
Let's cut My Sucky Teen Romance some slack in the video department. This is basically a no-budget production after all, shot entirely using the Canon 5D Mark II and other off-the-shelf prosumer HD-SLRs. The 5D has been used to great effect in numerous movies and TV series, but without the accoutrements of a more-professional production—good lighting rigs, namely, to avoid heavy source noise—the footage looks amateurish. It doesn't help that My Sucky Teen Romance was shot almost entirely at night or indoors, which means you will often spot patchy low-light camera noise, even from a normal viewing distance. Other digital video issues abound—strong aliasing on fine parallel lines, banding and other compression artifacts, and blown-out highlights. None of this has anything to do with the Blu-ray authoring; it's all a product of the lo-fi filmmaking workflow. While the picture on the whole is decidedly soft, closeups at least display a fair amount of high definition detail in facial and clothing textures. The white balance of the image is a bit wonky from shooting in dim hotel hallways and under convention hall lights, but there has been some attempt to give the movie a punch-up with color grading. This ain't your normal high quality Blu-ray viewing experience, but I'm pretty confident this is the best the movie can or will ever look.
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, the movie's uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0 stereo track is inherently limited by the low-budget recording and sound design. That's not to say My Sucky Teen Romance sounds bad—there are no major distractions here—just that you shouldn't expect much from this strictly functional two-channel mix. The best you can hope for is moderately clean and balanced dialogue—even here you'll get the odd volume dip or slight muffling—and some canned sound effects. There's also an exceptionally twee electro-pop score from Christopher Thomas, which gives the mix its only opportunity to open up dynamically. For those that need or want them, the disc includes an optional English SDH subtitle track.
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Man, I dunno. It's great to see an extremely young filmmaker with the wherewithal and ambition and sweat-equity to get a full-length feature off the ground, but My Sucky Teen Romance—as painful as it is to say—just isn't very good, not even in the cult/niche way that it aspires towards. It very much feels like a movie directed by a 17-year-old, which is to say that perhaps Emily Hagins should do some living and maturing before embarking on her next film project. IFC's Blu-ray release is warts-and-all true to the film's no-budget roots, but this is almost certainly the best My Sucky Teen Romance is ever going to look and sound. A rental if you're still curious would be the best bet.
My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray, News and Updates
• My Sucky Teen Romance Blu-ray - August 22, 2012
Dark Sky Films/MPI Media Group will release on Blu-ray Emily Hagins' My Sucky Teen Romance (2011), starring Devin Bonnée, Tina Rodriguez and Lauren Lee. The release will be available for purchase on September 4th.
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