Spontaneous is a 2020 American science fiction romantic black comedy film, written and directed by Brian Duffield, in his directorial debut. It stars Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel and Yvonne Orji and is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Aaron Starmer.
|Directed by||Brian Duffield|
|Screenplay by||Brian Duffield|
by Aaron Starmer
|Edited by||Steve Edwards|
|Music by||Joseph Trapanese|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
During a senior calculus class at Covington High, senior student Katelyn inexplicably explodes, spraying the surrounding students and classroom with blood. The police take the class into custody during an investigation, but aside from ruling out an attack, are unable to determine the cause of the explosion. During custody, senior student Mara (Katherine Langford) suggests to the class that it could happen again, a sentiment taken seriously by her peers. Afterwards, an unknown person texts her, claiming to have had a crush on her for multiple years: Mara promptly asks for the texter not to send a dick pic, to which the individual responds with a picture of Richard Nixon.
Following Katelyn's funeral service, Mara gets high on mushrooms purchased from school dealers (Laine MacNeil and Clive Holloway) and goes for tea with her best friend Tess (Hayley Law); fellow student Dylan (Charlie Plummer) approaches the pair and reveals himself to be the unknown texter with said crush on Mara. Dylan explains how he had begun thinking of life and how quickly it could end, and upon hearing Mara's suggestion of the incident repeating itself, realized that he needed to take action. The two begin seeing one another and attend a school football game and house party, although each are cut short when a jock and drink server explode, respectively, sending the attendees into a panic. Classes are cancelled for the time being, and students begin to dub the explosions as "The Covington Curse". The incidents attract the attention of numerous government agencies, who place FBI Agent Carla Rosetti (Yvonne Orji) on the case; she enlists Mara and Tess as aid.
While investigating the possible involvement of drugs, Mara goes for a drive with the school dealers, the Dalton twins; the pair explodes and the car crashes. Dylan arrives and consoles a dazed Mara, before federal agents arrive in protective suits and detain the pair. The entire senior class is placed under quarantine while the government devises a "Snooze Button" pill to "cure" the students, during which multiple students explode. Realizing that they can begin living like every day might be their last, Mara and Dylan continue seeing each other and pursue a hedonistic lifestyle; they have sex and dance to 80s music in an old barn. School resumes for the senior class, although the townspeople begin to fear the students and Agent Rosetti inadvertently admits to Mara that the explosions may not yet be over. While demonstrating the supposed effectiveness of the pill at a school seminar, a student explodes, triggering a chain reaction of explosions in the classroom. Dozens of students explode during the ensuing rampage, whereas Mara and Dylan are separated by the mob in a struggle to escape the building. Mara exits through a side entrance with ease and reunites with Dylan, who proclaims his love for her before unexpectedly exploding, injuring Mara in the process.
Following Dylan's death, a despondent Mara turns to alcohol, and in the ensuing weeks drunkenly falls out with her parents and Tess, as well as accidentally breaking Agent Rosetti's car window with a stolen bottle of whiskey. Mara also reads student comments online speculating that she might be the Covington Curse, as she was present at the scene of each occurring explosion. At the combined graduation/prom ceremony, Mara reconciles with Tess, who reveals that she is leaving town for a beach house that night and invites her to come. Believing herself to be the curse, Mara casually apologizes to the attendees for causing the explosions, but others chime in, claiming responsibility over circumstantial personal problems. Leaving the event, Mara visits Dylan's grave, and has a heart-to-heart conversation with his mother, who convinces her to move on with her life. Mara apologizes to her parents and sobers up.
After the rampage, the next "Snooze Button" pill seems to be effective and the explosions stop anticlimactically, leaving 31 students in the senior class dead. Covington High is closed by the authorities and scheduled for demolition. Mara gains possession of Dylan's milk van and - with her parents' blessing - moves into the beach house with Tess, as they had intended to do since childhood. The film ends with Mara telling the viewers to enjoy life while it lasts, as, "[What] the fuck else can you do?"
- Katherine Langford as Mara Carlyle
- Charlie Plummer as Dylan Hovemeyer
- Hayley Law as Tess McNulty
- Piper Perabo as Angela Carlyle
- Rob Huebel as Charlie Carlyle
- Yvonne Orji as Agent Carla Rosetti
- Laine MacNeil as Jenna Dalton
- Clive Holloway as Joe Dalton
- Bzhaun Rhoden as Harper Wie
- Chris Shields as Spiros
- Chelah Horsdal as Denise Hovemeyer
- Mellany Barros as Katelyn
In June 2016, it was announced Awesomeness Films had acquired rights to adapt the novel of the same name by Aaron Starmer, with Brian Duffield writing the script, and ultimately directing. Matt Kaplan co-produced under the Awesomeness banner, while Nicki Cortese produced under her Jurassic Party Productions banner. In December 2017, Katherine Langford was set to star in the film.
In January 2018, Charlie Plummer and Hayley Law joined as co-stars. In February 2018, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel, Yvonne Orji, Laine MacNeil, Clive Holloway, Bzhaun Rhoden, and Chris Shields were added in supporting roles.
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 62 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critics' consensus reads, "A dark teen comedy with an explosive twist, Spontaneous reaffirms Katherine Langford as a rising star ― and marks debuting director Brian Duffield as a filmmaker to watch." On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 78/100 based on seven critic reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”
Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave Spontaneous 3 out of 4, while Leslie Felperin of The Guardian who gave the film a 4 out of 5 score, said that "this debut feature from writer-director Brian Duffield has plenty of gallows humour to leaven the gore and tragedy, and plenty of subtexts swimming under the surface like glittering, metaphorical koi."
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- Felperin, Leslie (October 7, 2020). "Spontaneous review – bloody high-school horror hits raw nerve". TheGuardian.com. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- Gemmill, Allie (September 27, 2020). "'Spontaneous' Review: Katherine Langford's Sci-Fi Comedy Is Bloody Good — But Mostly Bloody". Collider. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
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- Spontaneous at IMDb
- Lealos, Shawn S. (October 2, 2020). "Spontaneous review: Is the explosive teen dark comedy worth the watch?". Monsters and Critics.