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The Independent Critic

April Denise Scott, Michael Hooper, Emily Fletcher, Eric Flores
Cameron A. Mitchell
107 Mins.

 Movie Review: This Sucks 
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This Sucks is the kind of indie project that crosses my desk and leaves me asking myself "Why hasn't this found a bigger audience?" 

Written and directed by Cameron A. Mitchell, This Sucks stars April Denise Scott as Jess, an engaging but utterly depressed young woman who's trying to make her way in a society that doesn't particularly want her. 

How depressed, you say? She has a demon following her around. Like, literally. 

This Sucks is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a dark comedy with equal parts dark and comedy. It's an ensemble motion picture empowered by a strong ensemble and a surprisingly strong message motion picture that finds just the right balance between entertainment and engagement. It's the kind of film I enjoyed watching AND the kind of film I immediately wanted to watch again. 

This Sucks is set in the time of Christmas 2020 when the world was falling apart and life did, well, sucks. Jess and her roommates, including Carly (Emily Fletcher), Ted (Eric Flores), and ex-boyfriend Jake (Michael Hooper), are forced to navigate a ridiculous world, living together, being quarantined, and the Christmas season. 

In case you haven't figured it out, it's not easy and it all kind of sucks. 

This Sucks had its world premiere at the Golden State Film Festival where the film picked up the Best Feature Film - Audience Award. The film also received the ReFrame Stamp from Women in Film for gender parity in hiring practices. 

Yet, as I sit here writing this review not long after watching This Sucks I can't deny that part of me is left wondering "Why not more?" As I sit here looking out at the results of an unexpected snowstorm in my hometown of Indianapolis and contemplate this season's wide-release films that have ranged from awful to godawful, I can't help but wonder why such an intelligent, entertaining film isn't being picked up by some indie distributor or even, god forbid, a studio looking for that unexpected hit. 

I don't know. Hollywood is weird. 

This Sucks is is weird too. It's weird and funny, insightful and meaningful. Scott absolutely soars as Jess by offering a rich portrayal of everything that it means to be a complex human being. She's fiercely funny, emotionally compelling, and yet constantly companioned by that occasionally fierce monster known as depression. Scott's a newcomer to film and Mitchell has given her the perfect film for her debut. 

The supporting players are equally impressive - Emily Fletcher is a giddy wondermess as Carly, exhausting to be around yet impossible to not be around. Eric Flores as Ted is an absolute charmer - the LGBTQ best friend whose mere presence makes you smile yet who harbors a good deal more than he often reveals. As Jake, Michael Hooper takes what could have easily been a one-note character and turns him into a mini-symphony of humor and heart. 

There's some familiar faces here who also contribute mightily. Rachel Amanda Bryant , as Ocean, always makes the most of every character she plays. Filmmaker Cindy Baer (Odd Brodsky) shows up as "Unmasked Woman" and delights. And yes, it's worth noting that This Sucks lives in an often masked world both physically and emotionally and we can't help but enjoy how this all plays out. 

Lensing by Alecia Denegar is tremendously successful at weaving together the film's narrative tapestry. Original music by Charlotte Partt serves as a perfect companion to the film's emotional rhythms along with the film's spirited soundtrack. Siani Johnson's editing ensures we are immersed in the film's deeper meanings yet are also consistently entertained. 

Mitchell is a filmmaker whose work I've enjoyed reviewing over the years with an emphasis on short film projects. Given room to breathe here, Mitchell engages and entertains with terrific storytelling and a beautiful understanding of how to make this story really come to life. By the end of This Sucks, there's no doubt that Mitchell is really reminding us that we're not alone here while also holding space for us to come face-to-face with our monsters so they're not quite so scary anymore. 

Together, we can face most things in life. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic