An absolutely ridiculous premise serves as the foundation for one of the most surprising films of the year, full of humor, heart, and a career-best performance by Katherine Langford.
Students are randomly and mysteriously exploding in school, leaving seniors Mara (Langford) and Dylan (Charlie Plummer) to cherish each day as if it may be their last just as a romance begins to blossom. Writer/director Brian Duffield is playing with a lot of genres here, with Spontaneous incorporating light horror, drama, dark comedy, and romance all in one cohesive film, balanced as though he is a seasoned filmmaker. Looking at his filmography, it is clear that Duffield has taken a bit from each of his previous projects to compose this dynamic story. His main cast, from Langford to Plummer (and including Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, and Rob Huebel) absolutely commit to their roles fully, elevating what could have been a cheap popcorn flick.
Langford, as mentioned, is the standout here. While she is no stranger to high school roles with dramatic flair (13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon), she elevates her skillset with her snarky, fun, even introspective character that advances the story and directs the emotional impacts from scene to scene. I found myself laughing often, then gasping at a sudden turn of events before shedding tears near the end.
At a time when so much seems uncertain, Spontaneous delivers a meaningful message of the importance of living life to the fullest. Duffield knocked it out of the park here and is certainly a filmmaker to watch.
Spontaneous is available now on VOD.
Photo from Roger Ebert