Hey there Plotaholics–Bryan here!
I recently had the opportunity to preview the 2019 Anderson Cowan indie film Groupers starring Nicole Dambro, Peter Mayer-Klepchick, and Terrance Wentz. Just so you know, this will be a spoiler-free warning since this film opens in theaters as a release in Los Angeles TODAY (9/27/19) and a nationwide release next weekend (10/4/19).
The plot, according to IMDB.com, is:
A grad student kidnaps two homophobic high-school bullies to use as her subjects in an experiment performed at the bottom of an empty swimming pool.
Simplistic? Maybe. I read this synopsis before I watched the film and was intrigued. In speaking to Shane further about the film, he mentioned another interesting nugget: the grad student uses a form of conversion therapy against the homophobic characters. I was even more intrigued! After all, the idea of homophobes being forced into a form of “therapy” used against homosexuals as a way to “change” them sounds great!
So I sat down with this film, anticipating a film in the vein of Saw or Human Centipede. I was ready for a psychological whirlwind that would also turn graphic and earn an amazing R rating. What did I get? Something entirely different. Groupers is one of the most well written and entertaining films I’ve ever seen. It’s full of curve balls that made me laugh my ass off, and I was entertained in ways that I wasn’t even expecting! There is a reason the Cinequest Film Festival referred to Groupers as “a rare, highly original, and super-charged dark comedy that will keep you guessing and contemplating the provocative, yet crucial themes at its essence”.
Nicole Dambro’s “Meg” comes off as a woman who fuels her cold, calculating, experiment with the pain of nearly losing her younger brother, Orin (Jesse Pudles), to an apparent suicide attempt after he was constantly harassed for being a homosexual by stereotypical ‘dude-bros,’ Brad (Mayer-Klepchick) and Dylan (Cameron Duckett), but that is just one part of the puzzle!
Soon, the viewer will realize that there is a bit of a curve ball on the way when the film introduces Talkie (Brian Ioakimedes), Frank (Max Reed III), and Hank (Travis Stanberry), (who I affectionately nicknamed Jay, Silent Bob, and Nazi Carl). These three show up in our second act to interrupt the experiment due to unforeseen circumstances on Meg’s end.
But wait, there’s more! Then we meet Durant (Wentz), Tex (Marqus Bobesich), and Oman (Edward Jackson) who show up and interrupt the interruption of Jay, Silent Bob, and Nazi Carl in a third act that spirals close to chaos before our heroine returns to rebalance the action.
This film was so much more than I was anticipating, and it was such a positive and pleasant surprise that I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience this film. Yes, I used the term experience because I didn’t just watch this movie. This isn’t just a movie that you’re going to watch. Aside from the comedy, the film provokes reflection and thought over its premise and thesis, but it never gets too heavy. One thing you will never be when experiencing this film is bored.
There are no terrible performances in this film. There are no painfully awkward experiences in this film. Cowan did an amazing job with the pacing, the dialogue, and vision of this film and his cast brought it all to life. Each and every character feels fleshed out as much as they can be with the screen time they are given and the entire runtime of 1h 48min is used perfectly and is never wasted.
There’s a reason why this film holds a 8.4/10 rating on IMDB.com folks; it’s just that damn good.
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