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First Look Review - CRSHD

crshd review
A college freshman hopes to lose her virginity at an exclusive party.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Emily Cohn

Starring: Deeksha Ketkar, Isabelle Barbier, Sadie Scott, Callie Harlow

crshd poster

See, the thing is, I love social media. If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t be writing for the Waffler, I wouldn’t have found out Snowpiercer was (finally!) on Netflix, and Joyce Carol Oates couldn’t have liked my tweet that time. And although I’m a bit too #blessed to have had to bother with them, I reckon I would probably like dating apps too: the excitement of them, how anything could happen when you look at the screen of your phone - a will-they-won’t-they-swipe-right SchrΓΆdinger’s Chat, which would turn every moment of your life into an ersatz Valentine’s Day. But, a bit like drugs, the problem with social media begins when it becomes the dominant experience, rather than a facilitator of other, more exciting adventures (I mean, an argument about a film on twitter surely can’t beat actually watching the film… can it?). Consequently, this is why most films about drug culture are a bit dull: they’re something you do, rather than watch. How would a movie almost entirely based upon the insular interplays of social media - dating, friendships, curated online identities - play, I wonder? Let’s find out…


crshd review

Emily Cohn’s Crshd is a sex comedy wherein a college freshman sets out to lose her virginity, and, along with her pals, sets out to get an invite to an exclusive ‘Crush Party’. The rubric of said shindig is kind of great: you can only attend if someone else nominates you as their crush, and so it sounds like a real-life, physical Tinder. However, most of Crshd’s narrative is formulated through social media interaction, neon indicated split-screen visualisations of group chats, non-diegetic graphics floating hither and tither; the sort of thing which only Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has ever managed to pull off successfully. And just like Edgar Wright’s mixed bag, by foregrounding the supposed novelty of its mode of address, Crshd doesn’t leave enough time to explore the human interaction beneath.


crshd review

It’s a promising set up, an Eighties throwback to frat-comedies like Revenge of the Nerds (crikey, how prophetic that film turned out to be, prefiguring the toxic sense of entitlement which characterises today’s geek culture) and Porky’s (the darkest film made by the director of Black Christmas), where a bunch of losers try to get a last ditch shag and much comedy ensues. Except this time, it’s a group of girls who are DTF, and why not: it is 2019, after all. However, within the aforementioned lads' bants, there is always the heart-breaking sense that, for boys, sexual congress is an expected marker of masculinity, and the films trade on the irony that the very desperation with which such an imperative is pursued highlights just how immature our heroes are (I always loved how authentically cool the girls in American Pie seemed compared to their dickish male counterparts). We’re never really privy to what drives Izzy (Isabelle Barbier - great!) to finally want to get her leg over, especially on the night before a final, an exam which, through the film’s name dropping of Vera Rubin (you know, her who discovered Dark Matter) we’re meant to think is incredibly important to Izzy. She has to decide whether to meet her tutor for essay feedback at nine o' clock at night, or go to the party; but isn’t nine far too early for a party and surely too late for tutor time? The clunky exertion to add jeopardy to what is essentially a few kids going out on the piss becomes all too apparent.

But, as college students, are they even kids? I think Crshd would have perhaps worked a bit better, if a bit ickier, if the girls had been a similar age as the teens in American Pie or Grease. It would have certainly made their immaturity and silliness a bit more sympathetic: when Izzy talks to some hunk or another, we are privy to her fantasy of getting off with the lad. This happens several times. She steals the boots of her mate’s hot girlfriend (who is the spit of film critic Amy Nicholson) because she thinks they will impress blokes, gets wrecked on booze (she’s been in college for a year at this point) and actually cares what people online think of her. At one point Izzy’s pal loans her an earring which holds absurdly sentimental meaning, which Izzy promptly loses in order to generate a bit of last act soul searching. This film does millennials no favours at all.


crshd review

As the film continues, the epistolary mode is gradually dropped, and Crshd proposes that, you know, living life online isn’t a substitute for actual experience. Hold the (reddit) front page! When we look back, I think it will be horrors like the Unfriendends and Searching which will authoritatively elucidate this era’s relationship with online interaction. A broad media requires an equally unsubtle, hyperbolic genre to explore its potential grimness, the poisonous anonymity, the grasping emptiness of it all. As for Crshd, will Izzy eventually get to put one on someone? Can her friendships withstand her being sick on some purloined boots? Will she find the earring her best mate unfathomably lends her? You’ll have to watch it to find out.


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