Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Yvonne Orji
Director: Brian Duffield
Running Time: 101 mins
Spontaneous is an American film about a high school senior who finds herself in the middle of a bemusing and terrifying crisis when students at her school begin spontaneously combusting in gruesome fashion.
I remember when spontaneous combustion was something of an eccentric fad among ten year-olds about a decade ago. It was really weird. Anyway, Spontaneous takes the odd thrill of spontaneous combustion and turns it into a thoroughly enjoyable movie, complete with great laughs and impressively deep and reflective emotion.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this movie, but one of the most surprising things about it was the way it managed to use gore, profanity and some really dark humour to brilliant effect. With the exception of somebody’s head exploding in the first scene, the early stages of Spontaneous feel almost like a Nickelodeon movie, and not the sort of film to really grab your attention at any point.
However, the story unfolds really nicely over the course of the first act as it introduces you to the two main characters played by Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer, who are wonderful together in one of the year’s most offbeat romances.
Spontaneous isn’t a quirky teen romantic drama, though, its oddity comes from the sheer bewilderment you feel as its plot gets more and more bizarre. It’s not an abstract narrative nightmare like Rubber, but this certainly doesn’t follow the same track as your average Nickelodeon movie or teen horror.
With sharp dialogue and consistently funny humour throughout, I was laughing time and time again at this movie, and the running joke of constant spontaneous combustions really didn’t wear thin – something I was hugely impressed by.
However, not only is Spontaneous a throwaway sci-fi/horror/comedy, it also manages to bring in some surprisingly genuine and engrossing dramatic depth to its story.
As weirdly hilarious as each spontaneous combustion is, the darker events of this plot bring a surprisingly sombre tone to each death, and you really feel the loss of a student from the community as well as the devastating impact it has on everybody else.
That’s not to say that Spontaneous takes itself too seriously, because the film for the most part manages to walk a really fine tightrope between pure farce and overly dark drama. There are moments where it leans heavier to either side, but it’s generally a really strong blend of the two that makes for both a gripping and thoroughly entertaining watch.
And finally, the movie ends on an even more surprising note with an inspiring, thought-provoking and unique message about living life to the full. It may seem odd to see the film finish on such a note after watching people spontaneously combust for an hour and a half, but the way that Spontaneous manages to bring genuine dramatic depth into its story means that those more serious moments are never in the slightest bit jarring either.
Overall, I had so much fun with Spontaneous. On the surface a hugely entertaining movie with a weirdly hilarious concept that surprisingly never tires, the film is full of laughs and eccentricity throughout. However, it also surprises with some gripping emotional drama and striking themes, brought to life wonderfully by two excellent lead performances from Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer. So, that’s why I’m giving Spontaneous a 7.7.