Review: Shithouse

Title: Shithouse
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Cooper Raiff
Starring: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Geula, Amy Landecker
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins

What It Is: Alex (Raiff) is a college student in Los Angeles, far from his close family in Texas. Unsure of his future, or his ability to make it in a place where he has virtually no support system, Alex inserts himself into a party at the Shithouse, where he ends up mingling with his floor’s RA Maggie. Maggie (Geula) has a lack of support system herself, having put up barriers to define her independence though finds herself vulnerable after her beloved pet turtle dies. When the two find themselves drifting along the night after attempting a one-night stand, they afterward are forced to realize the reality of what the rest of their growing up entails.

What We Think: This hit home in a really painful way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a college movie hit with as much integrity and realism to post-high school youth and relationships. Though not as visceral, it is almost sort of evocative of Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. The performances by the entire cast are fantastic, with fantastic direction behind them as you find them all ultimately dimensional; well-rounded not as people, but as flawed human beings struggling with their independence and life directions. The writing fits in so naturally with the reality set in place; you really get the feeling that there was almost a skeleton of a script and the actors were allowed to do a lot of improvisation. As a fan of the genre, I could see this being the next installation that revives mumble-core among younger viewers and filmmakers. The chemistry between the characters grows as the film meanders on, not only getting more rooted within the viewer but also becoming more complicated, which is not something I get to see often from films. The presentation was subtle, almost theater-esque as it felt very relaxed, opening the doors for all the heartache and awkwardness to bleed through. It was funny when it wanted to be funny, serious when it needed to be serious, but never did it stop being an earnest, heartfelt experience.

Our Grade: B+, This film spews talent, though it may be easy to miss as it lets itself exist quietly. It isn’t a coming-of-age movie insistent on glamorizing sex, partying, lack of sobriety, and independence, but rather takes those attributes to and puts them in a more relatable and confrontational context that allows us to reflect on them. Overall, between the fantastic acting, direction, and delivery, this film maintains an empathetic fascination with what the transition into adulthood entails for a newer generation.

Author: Chai Simone