I like weird films. They’re usually fresh, interesting and thought-provoking. So, after reading “Electrick Children’s” synopsis on Netflix, I was sold.
It reads, “An idealistic teen from a devout Mormon family believes that she’s been impregnated by listening to music and travels to Las Vegas to find the father.”
No, it’s not a joke. “Electrick Children” really is about 15-year-old Rachel’s (Julia Garner) immaculate conception by way of a tape player.
But, that’s what’s so great about Rebecca Thomas’s movie. The plot is so original that the audience has no idea what’s coming.
Even good movies are plagued by predictable, archetypal narratives.
“Electrick Children” overcomes this obstacle with its avant-garde plot, peppered with ridiculous humor.
Plop a pious, 15-year-old Mormon girl in the middle of Sin City, and you’re bound to have some rather strange dialogue.
For example, after meeting an acquaintance, Rachel seriously comments, “Clyde is perhaps the spawn of Satan.”
Clyde isn’t even a bad guy. It’s just that his decorum and vernacular differ so much from Rachel’s that she describes him as Satanic.
She’s shocked when he curses, and she is shocked by his general uncouth behavior.
What’s even more amusing is whenever Rachel’s somewhat older brother, Will (Liam Aiken), introduces himself to “normal people,” he uses the moniker Mr. Will. The absurdity left me laughing in most of his scenes.
Will’s personality is shaped by this strict, rural, Mormon upbringing, and it’s comical how he interacts with grungy skateboarders.
But that’s not to say that “Electrick Children” is a comedy. It’s not.
The movie is really about Rachel’s confusing, sometimes painful search for her baby’s father.
Surprisingly, Rachel really does get pregnant without having intercourse.
And while it’s left up to the viewer to decide how, Rachel holds the tape’s singer responsible.
Due to her isolate Mormon upbringing, the tape player itself almost seems like magic. And Rachel spends lots of time testing the device out in awe.
The sadness of the film stems from Rachel’s confusing, often frustrating situation.
I mean, imagine if you were impregnated by a tape player. You’d be pretty frightened…
But despite the movie’s solid plot, “Electrick Children” is far from perfect.
Yes, the idea is fresh, but the plot seems very rushed.
I’m not saying it’s fast-paced—it’s actually really slow.
The problem is how Thomas allocates her time. The most interesting and important parts of the film are Rachel’s search for her father.
But instead of focusing on that important aspect, Thomas wastes a lot of time with “hanging out” scenes.
We watch as Rachel plays Never Have I Ever with her new Vegas friends. We watch Rachel’s brother try to skateboard for the first time.
These mundane scenes, while fine in moderation, really mar the film’s true potential.
If only Thomas had spent more time on the film’s plot points, “Electrick Children” might have been great instead of just good.
Nonetheless, Thomas has a hell of an imagination and deserves props for her deliciously weird film debut.