13th Nov2020

‘My Summer as a Goth’ VOD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Natalie Shershow, Jack Levis, Sarah Overman, Natasha Duvall, Rachelle Henry, Tristan Decker, Connor Muhl, Eduardo Reyes | Written by Tara Johnson-Medinger, Brandon Lee Roth | Directed by Tara Johnson-Medinger

I don’t know if this whole global pandemic is having some sort of adverse effect on me in terms of how I am feeling towards some movies. It may even be the case that binge watching Dawson’s Creek, which has just been released on Netflix, is not really the best idea for my 36 year old teenage-angsty mind. Purely from the title of this movie, and after having watched the trailer for My Summer as a Goth, I went into the film with some pretty low expectations, but I do remember a little independent British flick that I saw earlier this year called Soundtrack to Sixteen that stole my heart so I’m open to being proven wrong…

Joey Javitts (Shershow) still reeling from the sudden death of her father is shipped off to stay with her mad-cap grandparents for the summer while her mum (Overman) is off on a book tour (shoddy timing really). Here Joey meets Victor (Levis) a self proclaimed Goth and she is instantly taken by his charm and mystique. One or two days and a total makeover later and Joey has fallen hard for Victor in what becomes a coming of age story of self realisation, heart break, super relatable teen drama and a whole bunch of black make-up. Oh and only one Marilyn Manson reference which isn’t that surprising considering it’s supposed to be present day (I think) and who the hell cares about Manson now.

You know what? I will hold my hands up and say my preconceived notions were wrong about this film! My Summer as a Goth is very well written and captures moment in time that I think anyone can relate to.We have all been there for that first heart break, over someone you completely changed up the way you look, act and dress for. The goth theme – while interesting – is pretty irrelevant but its a fresh switch from the punk angle seen in movies like Some Kind of Wonderful or Valley Girl; both of which are clear inspirations here.

Shershow is doing the bulk, if not all, of the heavy lifting here – which to be fair is ideal because she is streets ahead of her co-stars in terms of acting ability and brings a crazy relatable nature to the portrayal. Levis, as lead goth Victor, actually kind of grated on me a little; however this isn’t a criticism in as much as a pat on the back for a job well done, I don’t think you are ever supposed to like him. The rest of the young stars round out our makeup-clad misfits pretty well and I had no complaints. I also really enjoyed the relationships of the older cast members and they provide some real moments of genuine belly laughs.

Allow me to be a tiny bit negative for a moment. I liked My Summer as a Goth‘s story and the way it was told but I feel like movies like this, especially the more independent, have a little more space to delve a bit deeper or darker if you like. Every now and then this flick seemed like it wanted to do that but when it came to pulling the trigger they backed off. Leaving me with a feeling of what the movie wanted to be as opposed to what it is. It’s only a small gripe but personally if your going to tease things, you need to execute them. Speaking of execution, Sarah Overman… when she hits the goth kid with that sick burn is sensational!

Would I recommend My Summer as a Goth? Yeah I think I would. It’s a really well made film with plenty of relatable “Oh crap I had that happen to me” moments; it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and has a really nice message to it that I think my own daughter would like too. However it’s not flawless, always leaving me thinking this movie wanted to be something a little more.

*** 3/5

My Summer as a Goth is available on VOD now from all the usual streaming/on-deman services. You can also check out our interview with My Summer as a Goth co-writer and director Tara Johnson-Medinger right here.

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