Writer/director Alicia Slimmer’s feature film directorial debut, Creedmoria, is a quirky coming of age film filled with weirdly wonderful characters. More akin in tone to a John Waters production than a John Hughes high school film, Creedmoria is a terrific first outing for Slimmer and signals the arrival of a filmmaker to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Slimmer’s characters walk a tightrope littered with clichés and caricatures, yet somehow manage to feel flawed and real. There’s a leather-jacketed bad boy (played by Steve Cavanaugh) who demands his woman refrain from speaking to any other man, a gay teen (played by Ryan Weldon) bullied by some of his peers while fiercely protected by his sister, and a drug-addicted older brother confused about his future. There’s even a creepy boss who treats his employees like crap. And then at the heart of the story there’s this likeable, caring 17-year-old who attempts to rise above her dysfunctional family life.
Creedmoria gets its name from the real Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, with fictional patients wandering only as far as the burger joint where Candy’s employed. Candy (Stef Dawson) is kind to this interesting assortment of troubled individuals, and in fact she’s kind to everyone until she’s pushed to defend either herself or her younger brother. Amid all the film’s bizarre twists and quirkiness, Candy’s sweetness is a constant that makes you care whether she can overcome obstacles and root her on to emerge from her circumstances stronger and more self-assured.
Slimmer loaded her feature film debut with so many interesting characters that at times Creedmoria feels a bit rushed to complete storylines. However, Slimmer’s script never fails to give Stef Dawson as Candy something gritty and authentic to latch onto, even in the most over-the-top situations. Candy and her brother make prank calls to 9-1-1 in the film’s first act, and Dawson goes all-in acting out the life-threatening situations Candy’s describing to the cops. She’s also got real chemistry on screen with Steve Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh does a terrific job channeling every leather-clad rebel into a big lusty ball of smoldering sexuality.
Creedmoria’s only negative is its ending which isn’t the payoff either Candy or the audience deserve. Ending aside, Slimmer and her cast have created a coming-of-age tale different from the norm. There’s a vibe, a tone, something nearly indescribable going on in Creedmoria. Slimmer accomplishes the near impossible by making you hungry for more of Candy’s story as the film ends.
Running Time: 90 minutes
Additional Cast: Ray Abruzzo, Rachel de Benedet, Giuliana Carullo, James Kelley, Arthur Gerunda, and PJ Brown
Distributor: Francisco Productions
Release Date: May 18, 2018