“Girls grow up faster than boys…’ ‘Why?’ ‘I think the world makes us,’ is a key exchange from indie comedy-drama Wyrm, which takes its title from the name of the weedy protagonist of this film by Christopher Winterbauerm (Moonshot). In an age of reboots and remakes, this is a decidedly unique proposition; we’re in an alternate reality, for a start, but the technology feels late 90’s and everyone is talking about this new fangled internet thing. Wyrm, however is not; he’s preoccupied with the high-tech neck-brace he has to wear, one that signifies that he’s never been kissed.
So Wyrm (Theo Taplitz) has a problem that’ll be familiar to most adolescents; how to make the transition from child to adult. His peers all seem to be making the jump, but Wyrm realises that he can’t just bribe anyone to relieve him of his burden. His parents are largely checked-out of his drama, and there’s an additional issue in the form of his recently deceased brother Dylan, and his twin sister (Azure Brandi) and her dancing girl-friends make Wyrm feel rather uncomfortable….
It’s a tricky business to depict teenage angst; too close to the subject, and the result might feel exploitative, maudlin or forced. But Wyrm has an ingenious world to explore, one where sexuality is handled overtly by school officials as part of the No Child Left Alone programme, and yet the promised land of manhood is no easier for an unconventional character like Wyrm to reach. He’s much more at home with dinosaurs than girls, but it’s the Winterbauer’s credit that he fashions a narrative that pays off with an upbeat, uproarious finish. Many comedies run out of ideas, but Wyrm wisely saves the best for last.
A darling of the festival circuit, Wyrm is something of a slow-burner; the moral isn’t immediately apparent at the outset, and the world described created takes an open mind to decode. Issues, such as self-harm, are addressed, but not in the way you might expect; Wyrm’s home-made injury doesn’t bring him the popularity he hopes for. Wyrm is never far away from a killer line or idea, and even if it’s as unconventional as it’s nerdy hero, this original film is worth seeking out for those keen to get a fresh dispatch from the front-line of teenage life.
Wyrm hits theatres and streaming from June 10th 2022 in the US. Thanks to Vertical Entertainment.