Screen Reviews


directed by Brian Yuzna

starring Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards

Arrow Films

Somewhere between a 1980’s teenage sex comedy and a horror flick we find this odd cinematic gem. Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) is Big Man On Campus at Beverly Hills High, his folks have piles of money and yet he feels left out, separate, maybe even adopted. Even his sexy girlfriend (Devin DeVasquez) makes him feel inadequate. He’s in therapy and his life is full of surreal moments yet you’re not sure if he’s having a breakdown or if filmmaker Brian Yuzna is just screwing with our minds. Can you ever have enough money? Director Yuzna seems to think not, he complains over and over in the director commentary that the sets didn’t look “moneyed” enough for his vision; but when shooting on a $2 million budget, you really are restricted. As the movie progresses, we see weirder and weirder things until it’s obvious that this family is dysfunctional on a really weird sexual plane or little Billy is totally whacked out. The Whitney family values might not line up with yours, but as long as the cops don’t show up, I think these people are cool. We bounce along for an hour or so of this high quality Hollywood fantasy, and then the real payoff kicks in. Bill’s parents have a party for a mysterious Judge Carter that goes far beyond the slug sushi and blow-up doll weirdness in the first hour. Its methyl cellulose time for Billy and his family as their friends engage in and a weird orgy of body transformation called “The Shunting.” This is surrealism taken to the Nth degree, and not for the faint of heart.

Technically a horror film, Society drifts more toward a psychological sexual thriller. There’s implicit or actual incest, voyeurism, and body transformation all slathered with a thick gooey layer of teenage angst. This is one of those movies you struggle with until it pays off, and then you are so struck by it you drag your friends to see it. Warlock is a decent actor, he’s good looking and believable as a young man on the edge of lunacy and surrounded by women who are either completely Valley Girl self-obsessed or genuine demonic succubae. The Director’s Commentary is completely engaging as well: Yuzna offers a logic to the insanity on screen as well as snarky comments on his own work. His horror simultaneously works on the visceral slime spewing level as well as the intellectual “dissolution of sanity” level. You might want to fast forward to experience the ending first, and then return to see where it came from. Yeah. Go ahead. Cheat. You deserve it. Everyone else on screen would do it in a heartbeat.

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