My Summer as a Goth (2020)

Tara Johnson-Medinger’s “My Summer as a Goth” is a lot like “Edge of Seventeen” but with so much less insight and charm than its predecessor. That’s not to say that “My Summer as a Goth” is terrible, but it’s a mostly unpleasant and surface level teen coming of age film that doesn’t re-invent the wheel. It definitely doesn’t seem to want to re-invent the wheel, spending a lot of its time trying to work in the inexplicable, often clumsy plot elements in to the narrative.

After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents for the summer while her author mother tours the country to promote her latest novel. Struggling to find a new crowd, Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his friends, all of whom have an obsession with death, black, and heavy make up. If “My Summer as a Goth” has anything worth checking out, it’s mainly the performance by Natalie Shershow, whose portrayal of the character Joey carries the film.

Most of the movie basically drags itself to the finish line, setting up so many weird and pointless sub-plots and asides. Johnson-Medinger has a tough time justifying so much of what unfolds that the movie is just tedious and unpleasant to sit through. The crux of the narrative, which involves Joey dealing with the death of her father, is completely lost in the weird Goth central plot which ultimately goes absolutely nowhere. We’re never quite sure why Joey wants to be Goth, or what she’s hoping to accomplish by adopting the lifestyle. There’s not even much justification for her attraction and subservience to character Victor who, most of the time, looks like an Anne Rice cosplayer.

There’s just not much complexity behind Joey and Victor’s relationship and I was never too interested to see where it was all going. Why is Joey attracted to this counter culture, again? The big flip of characters in the final half also felt awkward and forced as a means of just getting us to the end of the narrative. All things considered Tara Johnson-Medinger’s direction is solid, and there are strong performances by Shershow, and Eduardo Reyes, respectively. I wish “My Summer as a Goth” had so much more substance to it, even if it does at least aim for a new take on the teen summer dramedy.

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