Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Daydream Nation" is a curious thriller-comedy, about a teenage girl's dangerous world (in Canada)

Daydream Nation” (2010), by Michael Goldbach, is a curious mixture of horror, comedy, and strangeness, and mild eroticism, over some very serious matters.

A girl Caroline (Kat Dennings) moves from the city to a small coastal town (apparently in British Columbia) for her last year of high school.  She isn’t going to have the luck of Bella in the Twilight movies, or maybe she will.

The town has posted warnings for young women to walk in pairs because a serial killer hasn’t been caught, and on the edge of town an industrial fire threatens to slowly consume the village with a China-style mushroom cloud (maybe like Harbin’s smog).  This sounds like a prologue for something like Stephen King’s “Under the Dome”.

Quickly, the irresponsible high school English teacher Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas) sets up tutoring sessions, which very quickly ripen into an inappropriate relationship.  But the movie never goes into the legal territory one naturally expects (as I do in my own screenplay short “The Sub”).  Instead, Caroline also gets into another relationship with an attractive but troubled senior her own age, Thurston (Reece Thompson).
The film does have some interesting stuff.  There’s a scene with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #30 in the background (that music had been used in “Trick” (1999)).  In one odd scene, Thurston encounters a wounded man, can’t help him, and then feels he is a coward.  Then Mr. Anderson puts on a disguise and dyes his hair Anderson-Cooper-white, and starts telemarketing.  Is he the killer?  Well, there are some twists and surprises. 

One other odd moment in the film that is medically valuable occurs when Caroline describes how her father woke up with an armpit itch one day that turned into cancer.  That would have been Hodgkin’s disease.  She even says he went totally bald from the chemotherapy before dying.  What does this connect to?  The toxic waste fire?
Great line from the girl as a narrator: “There are some things in this world that are destined to occur, and there is nothing anybody can do is to stop it.” 

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