Late Bloomer (2004)

Late BloomerLate Bloomer is a devilishly funny, but brilliantly terrifying short film looking at the peck and sting of ‘the birds and the bees.’ Craig MacNeill creates an incredibly humorous take on the perils of sex education, accurately depicting the fear and excitement it can invoke in the mind of a 7th grader.

With allusions to horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (the teacher, Miss Lovecraft) the film embodies a classical horror tone and also evokes memories of alien invasion tales. These influences fuse well with the subject matter to create some hilarious moments. The whole concept is underpinned with beautifully melodramatic language that is both eloquent and poetic. The haunting voice-over is delivered with a gravelly depth by the writer and narrator Clay McLeod.

The protagonist (Sam Borenzweig) is captivating and bears some resemblance to the fantastic Frank Berkman character from The Squid and the Whale. It is an especially impressive performance by the lead actor as he only has his facial expressions to rely on (the only dialogue being heard from the intimidating figure of Miss Lovecraft). The child extras in the class are at times overplayed, especially during the Lord of the Flies style savagery mid-film, but this generally fits with the style of the film and doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the piece.

Late Bloomer scene

Visually, this short film is very sophisticated and offers some stark images that might well be etched in the viewer’s memory for some time! Backed up with an ominous soundtrack, the balance between the frightening and the ridiculous is accomplished in an entertaining and compelling manner.

Overall, a very enjoyable short film poking some much needed fun at the often mistreated subject of sexual education in schools. The building tension of the film gives a nice parallel of the boy’s rising sexual awareness, but with a quirky climax, some adult references and an undeniable oddness, all of which suggests this film might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, I would highly recommend it. Late Bloomer is a hysterical and offbeat short from an accomplished director.

Watch Late Bloomer below:

Late Bloomer - Short Film - Sundance Film Festival

If you liked  Late Bloomer – check out the Craig Macneill’s 2011 film Henley 

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