directed by Christopher Winterbauer

starring Theo Taplitz, Cece Abbey, Natalia Abelleyra, Ryan Alessi

Middle school is tough enough, but in the retro future world envisioned by director Winterbauer, society doubles down and requires all teens and preteens to wear a clunky dog collar until they have their first sexual encounter. Wyrm (Taplitz) is the last in his class to lose the collar; he’s awkward and shy and nobody will talk to him including his dad who lives on the toilet. Where did that name of shame “Wyrm” come from? Mom and dad read too much D&D stuff and named him after an obsolete term for a dragon. Thanks, mom. Thanks, dad. Eventually he meets up with an equally awkward young woman (Abby) and his collar falls away. But before this happy ending, he tried to cut the collar off and now has a large spray of indelible blue ink on his neck and cheek. Even in the face of victory, Wyrm snatches a solid defeat.

Deep down this film we find every adolescent’s journey: discover yourself, discover your desires, and then learning to manage them. Wyrm portrays the “Every Teen”: he’s lost and alone with no guidance from much of anywhere. The system delights in torturing him; he’d shoot up a mall if guns were available. Along the way we witness an alternate modern world where computers and technology seem frozen in the late 1980s with glass monitors, “Write it yourself software,” and touch tone hard wired telephone modems. The inversion in propriety is sex: normally taboo and shameful in our world, here it is celebrated as much as winning the football game or getting promotion. Wonderfully weird, Wyrm is a guy you can get behind and cheer for. Let’s give him the old hip-hip-hooray for making it through to the next miserable stage of life.

This film was presented as part of the 2020 Florida Film Festival.


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