REVIEW: ‘Wyrm’ Is Bold In It’s Glorious Awkardness

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Wyrm - But Why Tho

I’m not typically a big fan of crude humor. I mean, it depends on the context, but as a whole, just not my genre of choice. I am, though, a sucker for coming-of-age stories. So I was cautiously curious about Wyrm at first, directed by Christopher Winterbauer and based on his previous same-titled short film. In the 1990s of Wyrm, society has, on one hand, embraced the natural sexuality of humanity and teenagers in particular, going as far as to make a comprehensive (for the 90s) sex-ed a required part of their schooling. On the other hand, they have taken this so far that teens are strapped with a neck collar that will only come off if they complete their “Level One Sexuality Requirement – Typically Osculation” aka make out with somebody. Because no child should be left alone.

It’s utterly unique and I love it. It’s awkward enough being a teenager and navigating sexuality. Making everyone pronounce their benchmarks in sexual exploration by wearing an irremovable collar until somebody “pops it” for you? A recipe for social malignment that Wyrm (Theo Taplitz) knows too well when he becomes the only kid in his rising 9th-grade class still strapped with his. To be somewhat fair, his brother Dylan did die pretty recently. To be less fair, he’s also a really, gloriously awkward kid. Of course, his twin sister Myrcella (Azure Brandi) is way ahead of him in that department and rarely lets him forget it. Especially since she asks him to move out of their shared room into their dead brother’s so she has more privacy with her Norwegian boyfriend Mads Nillson (Ky Baldwin).

Wyrm is equal parts killer comedy and stunning drama with a simply perfect blend derived from both its wickedly sharp script and its quite talented teenage actors. The way the movie’s scenes and the dialogue within them swing between leveraging its constant awkwardness for laughs and landing on equally sincere moments between characters is a real justice to the maturity that teenagers deserve to be depicted with. While the subject of first kisses and beyond is awkward and leads to a lot of comedy, it’s also a very real anxiety that many kids go through (though certainly not all, and I do wish the movie at least acknowledged this). The weird collar thing is just a genius way of drawing attention to both ends of this. Because as something starts to develop between Wyrm and his new neighbor Izzy (Lulu Wilson) their tension is both hilarious as any outside observer would find it and filled with really genuine moments.

Directing kids cannot be easy, but they all do very well being awkward without being too awkward. Taplitz is certainly the most impressive though, as he has a noticeable trajectory in his personality and confidence over the course of the movie. He goes through a whole range of emotions and they each shine through sharply through an ever-present layer of Freshman oddity. I also quite enjoyed the always awkward but for different reasons performance of Uncle Chet (Tommy Dewey) and the performance of Sosie Bacon as Lindsey. It’s a bummer this was the only teenage role not played by a teenager (she’s literally older than I am), but that didn’t stop her from giving a really strong performance.

It’s really Lindsey who is the key to the whole movie’s dichotomy of comedy and drama. Lest we forget, Wyrm isn’t just dealing with his lack of osculation, he’s also dealing with his lack of living brother. Lindsey is Wyrm’s frequent reality check who is written in such a way that you’d be forgiven for forgetting her completely between her scenes until suddenly you won’t ever forget her again.

Of course, the doom and gloom is only part of it That this supremely awkward and odd movie was able to pull off two entirely different aspects of the teenage existence at once made Wyrm a rather special film. Altogether, it’s a great period piece, between its outlandish 90s fashion, its inability to explain the Internet, and all of its especially awkward dancing. But it’s also really smart in its embrace of its disreality as a place to show a modernly sensible world as it should be. Girls are popping their collars with other girls to no special attention. There’s disability represented in a way that isn’t simply ostracizing. And obviously, as a whole, it embraces talking about sex and sexuality as a normal thing that everyone does. Even if it’s also played for laughs half the time. Sure, there are some insensitively crude remarks made, but they’re mostly made in ways that exhibit them as clearly crude and don’t just normalize them.

Wyrm is a lot of things, but above all, it’s a great movie. The blending of comedy and sincerity through a gloriously awkward premise is completely compelling and rather unforgettable.

Wyrm is playing now in select theaters and is available on video on demand.

  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10


Wyrm is a lot of things, but above all, it’s a great movie. The blending of comedy and sincerity through a gloriously awkward premise is completely compelling and rather unforgettable.