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Emo the Musical - Film Review

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published April 30th 2017
Jesus was an emo
After being expelled from a private school, Ethan (Benson Jack Anthony) is forced to attend Seymour High - a run-down school on the brink of financial collapse. A self-styled emo, Ethan looks for his peer group at Seymour and finds them in the form of Worst Day Ever, a school band led by hardcore emo Bradley (Rahart Adams). Bradley's dream is to win the state rock band competition - and the band just happen to be looking for a new member. Ethan auditions, impressing by singing a song about how he doesn't want to be in their band.

Ethan has found his clique at his new school but things become a little more complicated when Ethan takes a fancy to Trinity (Jordan Hare), a member of the school's Christian youth group. The Christian kids spend their time at school trying to recruit new members. Trinity seeks to begin a relationship with Ethan and turn him away from his new emo friends.

Ethan freaks out and tries to get away from Trinity, and from Worst Day Ever's bass player Roz (Lucy Barrett) who is convinced her and Ethan will be the school's emo power couple. It all boils over as Ethan and Trinity's relationship becomes harder and harder to conceal, and at the same time, Bradley's demands on Ethan and his fellow band members become overwhelming as the band competition approaches.

Written and directed by Neil Triffett, and based on his 2014 short film of the same name, Emo the Musical looks at the tribal politics of high school through the narrow focus of two dissimilar groups: the emos and the Christian kids. The musical numbers seek to play up the division, whether from the Christian kids' cheery 'Come to Church with Me' or in the fear and loathing expressed in the emo kids' songs. Mixed through is a vaguely amusing plotline of Seymour High under financial duress with its only recourse being to take money from an anti-depressant manufacturer.

While some of the songs do get amusing at times ('Jesus was an Emo' will get a laugh), most of the rest just fall flat. A lot of the songs are intentionally meant to be daggy, whether it's 'Come to Church with Me' or the deliberately silly entries in the rock band competition. All of them just lack a bit of excitement.

The performances are earnest, though. And they've kind of got to be, because the script is so light. Benson Jack Anthony as Ethan and Jordan Hare as Trinity do the best they can, as do the rest of the Seymour students. Dylan Lewis is bleakly funny as an over-the-hill musician.

The film tries hard, but there's just not enough doing. The songs are the main problem, not only do they not advance the plot, not one is catchy or memorable. Emo the Musical provides a few chuckles, but not much else.

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*Nicholas Gordon was invited as a guest
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Why? For a high school musical
When: In Cinemas from May 4
Where: Cinemas nationally
Cost: Varies
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