I haven’t read any other reviews for Spontaneous, but it’s safe to say that “explosive” is an adjective used in excess. About a teenage girl who finds romance amidst a series of tragedies in which her fellow students spontaneously burst in a fucking bloody mess, Spontaneous is an amusing little movie built upon a batshit premise that unfortunately takes a serious turn when it should have been angling for laughs.
Presumably intended to be a critique on the helplessness many of us feel as one school shooting happens after the next, Spontaneous at first presents itself as a romantic comedy, and as a romantic comedy it works quite well. Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer make for an adorable couple; they have great chemistry together despite their characters being seemingly opposing forces, Langford playing a fierce, opinionated wreck of a person while Plummer adopts the meek “nice guy finishes last” persona.
The first half of Spontaneous is utterly engaging, in part because of the absurd concept brought to life by writer/director Brian Duffield but also due to the performances by Langford and Plummer. The two flirt, tease, and dodge the bloody balloons of bodies that violently rupture with amusing frequency. Their bonding feels real, their attraction to one another sincere.
But Spontaneous loses its appeal as Duffield opts to explore the traumatic effects on his helpless characters, their sense of loss, despair, grief, and guilt. There’s nothing wrong with this inherently, but what’s wrong it Duffield loses sight of why most people would be attracted to his silly concept in the first place: silliness. Kudos to Duffield for attempting to make something more of it all, but the lack of humor in the second half of the film really drags the overall viewing experience down, forcing you to question why you’re even bothering in the first place.
Spontaneous works much better as a romantic comedy (with bodies spontaneously detonating) than as a drama (with bodies spontaneously detonating). Its lack of balance leaves it from being the explosive–there, I said it!–event it could have been.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.