Spontaneous is based on Aaron Starmer’s Book of the same name, Brian Duffield writes and directs the story of Mara Carlyle (Katherine Langford) and Dylan (Charlie Plummer) two High School seniors who meet and fall in love all during the time when students begin to explode for no apparent reason.
I have to admit I expected a much gorier film with some evil sinister plan behind it. After all, I never read the book, so how was I to know? When you watch a trailer about teens just “Popping like balloons” as Mara puts it, I expected some loner kid to have some unknown power getting revenge on all the kids that wronged them. That is not even close.
In the opening scene, we see Mara in class with the teacher droning on about some math equation, while the students are all pretty zoned out. Mara drops her pencil and bends over to pick it up and there’s an audible pop as the girl in front of her, Katelyn Ogden just explodes. This is where Mara’s narration of Katelyn's incident, her personal thoughts, and the aftermath begins. Mara’s narration was one of the best parts of the movie because she’s a brutally honest smart-ass. Her attitude in the movie reminded me of Ellen Pages’ Juno, so she pretty much won me over within the first few minutes of the film.
After Katelyn’s death, Mara is hanging out with her childhood friend, Tess McNulty (Hayley Law), Dylan walks up to the girls and eventually reveals he’s her secret admirer. Dylan just felt he had to stop being afraid and just let her know how he felt. The fear that at any time he might just die was the catalyst needed for him to just “stop hiding and start living”. Dylan and Mara begin this weirdly awkward relationship that just works, at least in movies. Everything seems fine for a while and then another kid pops, and another, and two more. The last two happen inside a vehicle with Mara and you can safely assume at this point she is freaked out, scared, with the full weight of the whole situation finally hitting her.
Even though Mara still continues with her sarcastic comments throughout the film it’s at this point we see she’s trying to process and just cope with what’s going on. What really got me is that after all the deaths in the movie I started to compare them to real-world events. Luckily, 2020 has spared a lot of kids from having to deal with school shooters or other incidents that have happened in schools. for the past few years. I stopped looking at the deaths as kids mysteriously exploding and looked at it as a suicide, a car accident, the kid with an unknown heart defect, and so on. We even get a scene where multiple kids pop within a 10-minute time span, it could easily be described as a school shooting the way it all went down.
The final act is mainly how the kids, especially Mara, deal with the last event where kids painted the hallways red. By this time Mara has just hit rock bottom and now we watch her struggle to deal with life and whether she even wants to continue living at all. Spontaneous may not have been what I was expecting, but it was the love story I didn’t see coming.
Spontaneous will be available on Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital beginning October 6th, with a limited theatrical release starting on October 2nd.