Have you ever been sitting in a cinema when you get the feeling that you’re watching a cult film in the making? Welcome to Bottoms, from director Emma Seligman and co-writer Rachel Sennott. Look, it’s not going to be for everyone, the vibe is kind of … absurdist gay Mean Girls meets slasher fic? And is firmly rooted in Gen Z comedy. However, don’t be quick to judge this bloody high school romp – with slick cinematography, stylized shooting and a banging soundtrack – it really is one to watch.
Our tortured heroes are both loveable and deeply uncomfortable. PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) are both open lesbians (thankfully eschewing the usual trope of the closeted gay trying to fly under the radar) who start up a self defence club in order to attract the attention of their cheerleader crushes (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber). Due to an overblown maiming of the quarterback and some badly constructed lies about attending juvie over the summer, they become the local bad asses, and their ‘defence’ club turns more fight club as the rag-tag group of girls the bring together finds female solidarity in the masochistic maiming of each other. Oh, and learn how to defend themselves in the face of the looming enemy of the rival football team who in a bizarre subplot has been kidnapping local girls in the leadup to the Big Game grudge match.
As PJ and Josie continue to run their club in secret, the only hints being bruised cheeks, black eyes and knowing looks in the hallway, the footballers sense something is afoot – they are no longer the centre of attention they once were, and they appear to feel the lack of feminine devotion usually attributed to their status as local heroes. Irate, a few of their number set about working to explore PJ and Josie and win back ‘their’ loyal supporters.
Bottoms is an absolutely wild ride of a film, with absolutely no subtext. Strangely the gratuitous violence is very refreshing in a majoritively female-led highschool movie. Why should men be the only ones to find themselves while beating each other senseless? Women can take it too! With everything from teenage sexual awakenings to well-placed explosions, Bottoms is a film you should not miss.