dir: Michael Steves, 2015
Okay, not really.
*Full disclosure*: director Michael Steves and I are collegiate contemporaries. In fact, we took (more than) a few classes together. And I nearly, almost, possibly, coulda, woulda, shoulda worked on Clinger in the summer of 2013. But, life came at me fast and other things called to me (see: a commitment to an internship.) Anyway, Clinger is out there in the festival circuit now. But, it was something I’d been wanting to write about for a while.
So I pulled out the Draw Four card and here we are.
Now that you’ve been told that objectivity and subjectivity actually love each other very much and that’s why objectivity left daddy, let’s let the show go on…
Clinger is incredibly endearing and funny. It has the type of comedy that, I personally know Steves (I call him Steves, deal with it) to enjoy and produce. But the comedy is also just clever and fun once you pick up on the cyclical nature of its appearance in the script. All that said, what’s Clinger about? Well, Girl meets Boy. Boy falls in love with Girl. Boy dies in tragic juxtaposition of unnecessary contraption and break-up announcement. Boy comes back to life to haunt Girl. Girl doesn’t want this. Boy becomes homicidal phantom. Things ensue.
You can’t get much simpler than that. And thankfully, the film doesn’t try to complicate itself too much either. In fact, it is pretty explicit about its refusal to go too deep. This is a film that wants to have fun. That last part is particularly important considering that it’s a horror-comedy. In this instance though, horror is more a stylistic choice than a defining mode of genre.
What that mean dap?
Clinger borrows classic standards from the horror genre (for good and some bad), including: (almost) final girl, the magical negro (some serious misgivings aside, I love Coach Valeria), the rules of the monster, the monsters themselves, inexplicable killing of sexually active characters, and gore. Despite all this, though, Clinger is much more comedy than horror.* It simply utilizes the different horror tropes to further its narrative vision. Thus, the horror components are like the cayenne pepper accenting the adobo seasoning in this chicken.
In a less convoluted explanation: the tropes and forms borrowed from horror help highlight the stronger narrative strands of Clinger. Namely, the horrific nature of the traumatic environment that is high school relationships, especially right before college. There really is something resonant about Fern’s struggle to get to college amidst her vacillating relationship with Robert. It may seem facile at moments, but it’s something that is directly relatable and gives the film its centering truth, if you will. This is great, given the fact that it could have easily fallen into saccharine moments of folly, foolery, and consummation. (Not to say Clinger doesn’t dabble in the saccharine. Also, saccharine is a great word. Use it.)
In turn, the horror tropes help balance this. By introducing otherworldly elements, the horror components of Clinger circumvent and bend what we understand to be normalcy and “reality” in the film. More specifically, it allows us to be a part of the joke by showing how abnormal and wacky real life is most of the time. Clinger tells a simple and often sweet story. But it also mocks the unspoken amount of films that have done the same. In a way then, horror is the mirror that reveals the fourth wall in Clinger. Thus, we can understand the pathos and subsequent features of Clinger without laughing at the artifice, in contrast to [insert comedic romance film here].
In fact, we end up laughing with the artifice and construct of the film because it’s showing us ourselves, and these characters, in an arguably honest way. From little things like offbeat humor to an incredibly disgusting coital moment between Robert and Fern, Clinger is here to make you laugh and laugh with you. Even if it’s in disgust or shock.
That genuine quality, in addition to a well-handled production (even the often comedic-if-only-because-they-exist practical effects) make Clinger worth watching and discussing.
So I can’t tell you when Clinger is gonna show up on a screen near you.* But when it does, I’d definitely think you’ll enjoy it.
Also: keep it locked tomorrow. Kellz will be releasing his interview with the Clinger team.
*Didn’t know where to throw this in exactly, but: upon further review, Clinger also signifies its leaning towards Comedy by its dominant natural and bright lighting. It’s hard to be truly horrified (in the superficial or primal sort of way at least) when everything is damn bright and awash in warm tones. Big ups to Texas for said sunlight, but you get my point.
*You can follow news and screenings on teh Clinger facebookz
The original Homeboy With A Keyboard ™, dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. Find his rants and retweetery @dapisdope