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For most high schoolers senior year is a time of reflection and preparation with a touch of anxiety as they look ahead to the next chapter in their lives. For many this involves endless studying for standardized tests while worrying about college acceptance. For others it’s hoping their potential date to Senior Prom will say yes. Whatever the case, no high school student expects to lose sleep over the possibility of spontaneous combustion. However, in Brian Duffield’s directorial debut Spontaneous, this is exactly what’s on the mind of every student in the town of Covington’s graduating class.

One fateful day in the middle of another boring class, Mara (Katherine Langford: 13 Reasons Why series) spaces out as the teacher drones on and on about a topic of which she couldn’t care less. However, our day-dreamer is snapped back to reality when another student suddenly blows up. No, really. This isn’t a figure of speech. The poor girl sitting in front of Mara literally pops like a giant zit, covering those closest in proximity with buckets of blood sending the classroom of students screaming into the halls.

Katherine Langford as Mara
Katherine Langford as Mara

As Covington school officials and local authorities attempt to determine the cause of the spontaneous random explosion, a second senior meets the same gruesome fate followed by a third and fourth. Before long, this becomes a full-blown ongoing phenomenon sparking a federal investigation. And yet, in the midst of this perplexing blood soaked chaos, a budding love story emerges. With the sudden realization that life is short, new student Dylan (Charlie Plummer: Lean on Pete 2018) confesses his crush on Mara since recently transferring to Covington High.

As the entire Senior Class anxiously await answers regarding the absurd anomaly soon dubbed The Covington Curse, their only hope is to grow up before they blow up.

Katherine Langford as Mara and Charlie Plummer as Dylan
Katherine Langford as Mara and Charlie Plummer as Dylan

Best known for her serious role as Hannah Baker in the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, Langford gives a much different performance adding outrageous humor and light-heartedness through a grim scenario of combusting high schoolers. Echoing Emma Watson’s free-spirit character Sam in The Perks of being a Wallflower with a rebellious twist, Langford provokes laughter through her antics, hilarious honesty and voice-over narration. However, as with any good coming-of-age film, moments of heartfelt sincerity are seen when things go from bad to worse.

As Mara struggles more and more with her troubling situation, her humorous facade and dulling effects of abnormal amounts of booze melt away forcing her to face reality. Finally, the young actress gives one hell of a motivational speech concluding a fantastic character arc earning Langford a nomination for Best Actress and, in my personal opinion, should have landed her multiple awards.

Mara and The Covington Curse Mob
Mara and The Covington Curse Mob

In the same fashion of his script for the 2017 Netflix smash-hit comedic horror The Babysitter, Brian Duffield brings explosive dark humor with a heartfelt touch in his directorial debut. The film’s clever lines and outrageous scenario with some twists make it the perfect coming-of-age tale for a year as bonkers as 2020, and this year’s spring time graduation season. However, what makes this film a must see is its unapologetic honesty found in Mara’s final monologue that outdoes any graduation speech.

At its heart, Spontaneous is a comedic inspiration that speaks volumes about life itself. As Mara says “volcanoes erupt, and drunk drivers drive, and sink holes collapse, and sometimes … people explode.” Bad things are inevitably going to happen because we live in an imperfect world and nothing’s always fair – but there are beautiful things in life that make it worth living. We need only to make the choice to live the life we want right now rather than waiting for a day that may never come. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, so we might as well make the most of today.

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Brandon Long
Brandon Long
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