In 1994, a closeted teen struggles to part ways with his 4 high school drama friends at their final murder mystery party before they leave for college.
Even though this film is set before I was born, in a country I’ve only visited once, I felt very connected to it. Often teen films and parties are filled with drugs and alcohol, making me think that I’m living the “best days of my life” in completely the wrong way. I love books and theatre, so to finally see people living like I do, it felt real and sucked me in to discover more. We also see the friends talk about sex, religion and becoming part of the real world. Often with films about young people, they’ve had experiences and done wild things, and I don’t feel like I’ve even touched the surface, so again to see people like me was a refreshing treat, knowing that not all teens are party going crazies who live life on the edge, and people often are worried to discover what’s next.
On the eve of their separation, a group of friends who have come together through their love of drama and literature enjoy a murder mystery party and you can guess that things don’t go right. I loved the premise, enjoying their final night doing something that pulled them together, but one character has a secret he is unsure how to share and how it will be received. Gene is gay and terrified, and played by Nick Pugliese, we get to see this interesting and revealing portrayal of someone unable to continue hiding who they are. He was real and confused, letting us get to know him like close friends, but feeling distant from the truth like everyone around him was. Even though he could be seen as the main character of the story, I liked how we were able to see equal snippets into each of the character’s lives and how friendship groups come together as a muddle of people. These sheltered Christian teens question their readiness for the real world from an unexpected visitor called JD. He’s a rebel, and totally judgemental of their style of party. To break up the story and see the different reactions to JD spilling his thoughts was such a clever way to introduce the fact that these kids are kids, and not ready for anything out of their bubble, including different sexualities.
Written and directed by Jonathon Wysocki, this is his first feature film as those roles and has described the film as “a love letter to his drama nerd origins” which like I’ve said, I fully appreciate too. This felt so different from all the other teen genre films I’ve seen, and whether that was the time period, the themes or the newness of characters, the people we hardly see on our screens or if we do it’s in a stereotypical way, it all worked to present this coming-of-age style film to us. Taking place over 24 hours, I felt that the pacing was great, keeping us hooked to the arrival of new people or the changes of costumes, again adding to the real feeling that this feature gave off.
No one wants to be the one left behind when their friends leave for the next thing, but Dramarama shows us in a loving and caring way that those people will always be there for us, even if they are halfway across the world. Even though we focus on Gene wanting to come out to his friends, I’m glad we also explored other important things for the other characters, and for an audience who have never seen themselves on screen this way before.