(director/writer: Jennifer Reeder; cinematographer: Sevdije Kastrati; editor: Justin Krohn; music: Nick Zinner; cast: Kiah McKirnan (Jonny Baptiste), Alicia Silverstone (Aunt Hildie), Avery Holliday (Poppy), Casimir Joliette (Aviva), Josh Bywater (Sterling), Sasha Kuznetsov (Kirk), Melanie Liburd (Jean), Christopher Lowell (Principal Burke), Ireon Roach (Elektra), Tim Hopper (Jonny’s father); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Derek Bishe, Gregory Chambet; Shudder; 2023)

“Never runs out of energy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Jennifer Reeder (“Knives and Skin”/”Signature Move”) directed and written film is a bloody slasher high school thriller, whose original story leaps from one thrill to another before it can stop the bleeding for a brief moment of reflection. 

Before our
compulsive and street smart thief Jonny Baptiste (Kiah McKirnan) turns 18, her ailing father (Tim Hopper) hands her off from her rural community to live with her eccentric Aunt Hildie (Alicia Silverstone) in Chicago. Dad hopes the understanding Hildie can straighten out the troubled kid before it’s too late to save her.

It’s also made apparent that Jonny was born with para-normal superpowers, inherited from her family. The powers are called by her
“the Forevering.” These powers give her the great ability to deeply empathize with others, and she begins developing these powers that are passed down from mother to daughter while at auntie’s place and enrolled in an all girl uniformed school.

Hildie treats Jonny’s theft problem by punishing her and making her eat the lipstick she stole from her.

A queer love story gets tacked onto the coming-of-age and slasher one, as Jonny finds romance with another coed (
Ireon Roach).

The main story has a serial killer attacking and kidnapping high school coeds. Feeling obligated to use her super-powers to catch the serial killer, Jonny teams up with her high school friend Aviva (
Casimir Joliette) to nab the culprit. But soon Aviva goes missing.

The movie has many layers, maybe too many, but it never runs out of energy or on viewing female perceptions or on how to keep the slasher story cutting deeper into the skin but without cutting deep enough.

It played at the Berlin Film Festival.


REVIEWED ON 1/13/2024  GRADE: B-