(director/writer: Greg Jardin; cinematographer: Kevin Fletcher; editor: Greg Jardin; music: Andrew Hewitt; cast: Brittany O’Grady (Shelby), James Morosini (Cyrus), Alycia Debnam-Carey (Nikki), Devon T errell (Reuben), Gavin Leatherwood (Dennis), Reina Hardesty (Brooke), Nina Bloomgarten (Maya), David Thompson (Forbes), Aly Nordlie (Sophia); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: William Rosenfeld, Kate Andrews, Jason Baum, Raúl Domingo; Netflix; 2024)

“Has a goofy premise

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-budget ($17 million), high concept, mystery/sci-fi story, that rings true as a stylish psychological thriller. It’s amusingly directed and written in a wicked way by the ambitious first timer Greg Jardin, who has credits on directing TV shows, music videos and commercials. The film has a goofy premise (it’s a rip off of the 2022 Bodies Bodies Bodies), and is filled with distracting visual flourishes like split screens. Costs are kept down by having no stars and filming it in one location.

A diverse group of college friends eight years after graduation are still friends even if not keeping in contact. They gather for a weekend to celebrate the upcoming wedding of their college friend Reuben (Devon Terrell) to Sophia (Aly Nordlie). The event is held in a wooded spot in rural Oregon, in a posh mansion Reuben’s deceased artist mom left him, that houses on the grounds a statue of a vagina.

Those attending include the following: the shallow Cyrus (James Morosini), who talks his longtime petulant girlfriend Shelby (Brittany O’Grady) into attending despite their strained romance over his sexual indifference to her; the social media Instagram influencer Nikki (Alycia Debnam-Carey), who Cyrus prefers over Shelby, which makes his girl jealous; the obnoxious, body tatted, wealthy party boy Dennis (Gavin Leatherwood); Brooke (Reina Hardesty), the confident artist of tacky artsy things; and Maya (Nina Bloomgarten), the Buddhist retreat attending stoner. All of them Gen Zers, who are still searching for their identity.

The late arrival of the “weird genius,” expelled from college because of shady dealings, Forbes (David Thompson), spells trouble when he brings with him a mysterious suitcase that has in it a party game they will play.

It’s a mind-bending black comedy/horror cult film, with a tricky script, that ties up all the loose ends in the last act. It’s one of those films that the less that’s said about the plot, the better. It’s the surprises and twists–even if they’re less than compelling–that give the pic some heft.

It played at the Sundance Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 2/17/2024  GRADE: C+