Eighth Grade: A Review- Luka Katic

By March 10, 2019 June 6th, 2019 No Comments
By Luka Katic
Directed by Bo Burnham
Eighth Grade on the surface is a slice-of-life drama/comedy about Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher)
going through her last week of Middle School before transitioning into High School but it is
perhaps the greatest horror film of 2018. This is not to say it’s filled with the likes of vampires,
bloody chest bursts or demons but rather because of how accurately it depicts the horrors of
anxiety in a superfluous and shallow school environment. I found myself practically curling up
into a ball or biting my clenched fist at how uncomfortably genuine and awkward so many
scenes were. At the risk of sounding like an old crotchety man sitting on the porch; it really
speaks to how guided by social media and false expectations many young people are
nowadays. So many bits totally crept under my skin and I could see so much of myself as well
as some of my friends in many scenes.
That’s not to say it’s all bleak and painfully real. Despite how sorry you feel for Kayla throughout
the movie it’s Elsie Fishers’ phenomenal performance that is able to transform it from just being
a pity-fest into a character you can relate to and root for. The raw, true performance she gives
ensures you can’t help but be proud of her when she overcomes another hurdle. As a matter of
fact, pretty much every performance is quite solid and Josh Hamilton as Kayla’s father is
another exceptional addition. He’s so believable caring towards Kayla and exudes such genuine
warmth. All the other kid actors were surprisingly consistently good but it really is the
interactions between Josh and Elsie as father and daughter that are the clear standouts and
make for the best scenes in the movie.
Anna Meredith’s score brings so much to the overall mood of the film too. She is able to totally
elevate the smallest moments and just blast them through Kayla’s perspective so the audience
can understand how truly grandiose these moments feel to her. It’s also how the score can
make these imposing moments still sometimes feel quirky and not too overbearing by remaining
fairly consistently bouncy and memorable. There’s one particular motif that’s repeated multiple
times throughout that just boroughed into my ear and I found myself constantly listening to
afterwards and humming during work.
Eighth Grade is Bo Burnham’s first feature although it’s not his first time directing. Burnham has
had prior experience serving as the director on various comedy specials (including his own) and
he translates these skills to the screen with such ease. It’s also his commitment to giving an
accurate depiction of how people use technology that is another strong aspect of Eighth Grade.
There are still the typical instances of children on their phones and ignoring their parents but
there’s never any cynicism behind it. Burnham actually takes the time to show why the phone is
so appealing to Kayla. There’s one particularly moving montage of Kayla simply skimming
through Instagram on her phone while ‘Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)’ by Enya plays and it truly
gives such a simple scene an almost spiritual feeling of escapism.
Eighth Grade is a personal film as well as fantastically introspective into the experience of
growing up and coming out of your shell. So, it’s near criminal to see Bo Burnham miss out on a
nomination for best original screenplay at the Oscars for his work here. Perhaps the relatability
of the film won’t carry on to all age groups who see it, but regardless of if you’re a fan of Bo’s
previous work, a newcomer to his or even if you were ever thirteen yourself and struggling to fit
Eighth Grade is easily a must

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