Spontaneous is an explosive coming-of-age comedy where no day is even guaranteed for anyone attending Covington High School.
Aaron Starmer’s novel gets the small screen treatment in Brian Duffield’s adaptation. While the novel was first published four years ago, the story being told is very much on brand for 2020. Imagine going to high school and witnessing your friends exploding to death with blood landing everywhere. The amount of clothing that needs to be washed on a daily basis is insane! I also want to stress that I did not read the novel so I don’t know if the pop cultural references originated from there. And they are numerous. There’s a scene that literally could have been pulled from the Steven Spielberg classic, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Mara Carlyle (Katherine Langford), best friend Tess McNulty (Hayley Law), and Dylan (Charlie Plummer) all attend Covington High School. In the very first scene of the film, Katelyn Ogden also becomes the first high school senior to spontaneously combust. When it happens to one person, it’s a fluke. But when two students spontaneously combust, it becomes a question of why. Before we know it, every student is placed in quarantine. Sound familiar to anyone? While all this is happening, Maya and Dylan are developing a relationship. It comes with a catch because we never know if one of them will combust at a given moment. What do you end up doing when tomorrow is not even a guarantee? That’s one of the questions that the film explores.
One of the best things to enjoy about the comedy is we get more of Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer. The two of them are going places in their careers and have great chemistry on screen. With everything happening, you fear for their characters because you don’t know if they’ll make it to the end of the movie. Writer-director Brian Duffield manages to keep us on the edge of our seats while making us laugh at the same time.
Overall, Spontaneous is a home run. The film contains a certain amount of charm–as much as a film can have when students are dying all over the place. I’m not one for horror but what we see here isn’t the type of gore that provides nightmares. I mean, we’re already living through one.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Brian Duffield
CAST: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Yvonne Orji, Hayley Law, with Rob Huebel and Piper Perabo