Release date: 14th July
Wasted on the Young is perhaps the most audacious Australian film to come out in ages. It’s original, inventive, and goes places that most teen films wouldn’t dare.
Set in a modern expensive Private school, wealthy student Zack (Alex Russell) is as smug as they come. He’s the school’s champion swimmer, holds rave parties at his expensive house, and he treats himself like a winner. His step-brother Darren (Oliver Ackland) is the complete opposite.
Darren is a computer genius who is excluded by the cool kids, even if he is living under the same roof as their hero. When Zack learns that Darren and cute blonde Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens) are attracted to one another, his ego is pricked.
Zack holds another party at his house and makes his move on Xandrie, which only ends the night in disaster for her. Zack, who gets away with anything, threatens Xandrie if she speaks out. Unfortunately for Zack, Darren suspects something, and uses his computer hacking skills to wreak revenge.
Writer-director Ben C Lucas’ Wasted on the Young is a top-notch thriller for teenagers. It’s a cold, tragic, and mind-blowing tale set in a heightened reality where high school bullies act like the Mafia and no parents or adults are present in the film. It’s strikingly made with these stunning swimming pool sequences shot underwater and rave parties that look like digital music videos.
The story is inter-cut with flashbacks, flash-forwards, and detours into the thoughts of Darren and Xandrie, which builds our assumption that something huge is going to happen in the end. When the film ends after a long house party sequence that takes a while to comprehend, you have to talk about it with your friends and ask questions like, “Was this or that meant to be a thought, a flashback or reality?” It’s almost like Memento where you want to see it again to see where the pieces fit with hindsight.
The cast is extraordinary. Although Zack is charming and the most controlled jock of his gang, his smugness and lack of remorse makes him a chilling villain. It’s an impressive debut performance from Alex Russell. Oliver Ackland is charismatic and strong as the doe-eyed geek Darren, and Adelaide Clemens nails that journey from gracious schoolgirl to being driven over the edge by abuse and isolation.
Adults may find the film’s violence and bullying overdone because it doesn’t play it safe for the teenagers, even in the dark twist at the end. However, Wasted on the Young is, without a doubt, a unique Australian film that will leave you overwhelmed from edge-of-your-seat suspense.