Considering that this is the directorial debut of a very young Cooper Raiff, one could only imagine the kind of success that awaits him in the near future. Shithouse is a teen drama that follows Alex (Raif), a college freshman who has virtually isolated himself from the campus life surrounding him. However, after one night at a party he meets a woman named Maggie (Gelula). From there, the two embark on a night out of memories, fun and emotion.
If this is the face of Gen-Z teen dramas, then audiences are in for a real treat. With Shithouse, Raiff was not only adept behind the camera and an absolute powerhouse in front of it but his script embodies the modern teenager. It is so authentic to the point where it genuinely pulls viewers in amongst these characters, secretly watching these emotionally-driven conversations unfold. Unlike many who have tried before, Raiff clearly understands these situations, which would make sense considering his age. Alex finds himself in a series of situations that are sure to resonate with many viewers. While surprisingly comedic, which works more often than not, the film was at its best when it hits its emotional beats (and oh boy do they ever hit hard).
The performances all around are perfect. Though clearly not award contenders by any means, they are perfect for how they make these characters feel like real life people everyone has come across at least once in their life. Take Sam (Miller), Alex’s stoner roommate, who literally embodies the personality of the Gen Z chad. Overtly drunk, Juuling 24/7 and feeling all the pain the next morning, it has to be one of the best modern teen characters in film ever. Gelula as Maggie is a perfect counter character to Alex. Both have their own baggage, but the way the two work off each other through the highs and lows of their adventures, it’s simply #goals.
The only real problem that stands out in Shithouse, is its at times questionable cinematography and odd pacing. Many shots are off-putting, there were a few scenes that just didn’t feel framed properly but it never takes away from the films unique energy. The pacing is odd, which really isn’t a problem when examined deeper. The moments where Alex is in his zone and comfortable, the film flies by. However, when he is isn’t in his “zone”, things feel much slower. Whether this was Raiff’s intention to emphasize the evident emotions or not, it’s something interesting to look at and discuss. Nevertheless, none of this detracts the film to the point of heavily problematic.
At the end of the day, Shithouse is the polar opposite of it’s title. Easily one of the best narrative features of 2020, there’s more than enough reason to check this one out. Especially for teenagers, who are bound to be in for more than what they bargained for with this hard hitting, unique film that is easily one of the year’s best.
still courtesy of IFC Films
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