18 to Party
directed by Jeff Roda
starring Kevin Daniel Carey, Enzo Cellucci, Alivia Clark
There was a time when underage kids in bars was not a big deal. Those days are gone, but let’s slide back to 1984 on a Friday evening. The high schoolers in this small town hang out on a loading dock, waiting for Polo’s Bar to open so they can hear the music. Since they can’t drink, they get in last, assuming there is any space left for them. They have to wait for all the legal kids to get in, then they can join the rock and roll elite. Shelby, nominally the smart kid, just flunked a math pop quiz. Lanky is the stoner who claims to know someone who knows someone. Weird Kera reads the paper and bemoans the evil politics of the day. All the other teen stereotypes float thought this crowd: The Artist, The Jock. The Trouble Kid With A Pellet Gun. It’s all very convivial, and the topic of the day: “Is This Class Jinxed?” Seven kids have died in the last year, a shocking number anywhere. There’s no good conclusion to this curse, and the group effort turns to the potential of sneaking in though a roof top maintenance hatch. Where does this freedom stem from? All the parents are at a meeting about the UFOs cluttering up their skies. Romances make and break, drugs are consumed, compromises reached. Soon the sun sets, and the film becomes dark. Not just from the ills of teen life, but mostly from the “Dogme 95” filming style the eschews any artificial light. It does save a few bucks in production but you wish you could adjust your brightness level
There’s a curious voyeurism here. These teens are no different than we were: obsessed with sex, drugs and angst over the odds of getting a role in the drama class production of Our Town. Their little microcosm recalls Norse mythology: most of the action takes place on the loading dock, representing the mundane world of Midgard. Below them and though the woods and chain link fence lies “The Construction Site”, a sort of Niflheim of the dead and the lost. Here the kids go to make out, smoke dope, and decide if they want to abandon the light and live here in hell. And above lies the Asgard of Polo’s Bar, a place only the blessed can enter, and only after a painful initiation. We all travel somewhere in these worlds, and these teens are us, set in a pretty frame. It’s a slice of life, life in 1984 and 1948 and 20 centuries into the future.
This film was presented as part of the 2020 Florida Film Festival sponsored by the Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL.