Four girlfriends reunite for a week of partying on the beach, and it’s all sand, sun and margaritas until one of them turns up dead. Glass Candy’s electropop soundtrack and a deliciously colored backdrop set the tone for a film in which a dead body may be the least surprising twist. VACATION! is a dazzling guessing game that includes a mysterious surfer dude, a UFO and an acid trip featuring blonde wigs and Miracle Bowel Cleanser.
NOTE DI REGIA:
Little breaks from reality create their own realities.
A trip to the beach, a two week film shoot. The new realities have little breaks, too. And those breaks have little breaks and so on and so on.
I grew up going to the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The summer after second grade I found out I had an extra tooth while staying in a tiny little house in Kitty Hawk. Years later, in a house further down south, its apparently where my mother told my father she didn’t think she loved him anymore.
I remember going to the video stores and seeing the lurid oversized vhs box covers for BLOOD FEAST and COLOR ME BLOOD RED and movies I would later realize were directed by Jess Franco.
One time we found a dead baby shark washed up on the sand. Taking walks to the Dairy Queen and jellyfish stings.
Wonderful terrible things. Terrible wonderful things.
Awake late at night, watching an awful infomercial. Walking out onto the top floor balcony, looking down into the pool to see a drowned frog. Jalapeño potato chips. Trips to the seafood store. A spaceship on the side of the road. These things all happened to me.
I’m not sure what it is about Hatteras Island, way down at the bottom of the Outer Banks, that makes me think about life and death and morality and exactly what it means to not believe in God. Maybe it’s the long, thin, white beaches, stretching out forever – no boardwalk in sight. Maybe it’s the knowledge that the whole island is one hurricane away from being erased from the map. To quote the Beach Boys again, “I know there’s an answer. I know now but I have to find it by myself.” Totes!
The third feature from Brooklyn-based Zach Clark, Vacation! is a psychological study wrapped up in a girls-will-be-girls beach-party movie and given a post-post-punk spin. Nerdy Sugar (Maggie Ross) invites her old college friends—butch-glam superbabe Dee-Dee (Melodie Sisk), prudish schoolteacher Donna (Trieste Kelly Dunn), and lascivious bad girl Lorelai (Lydia Hyslop)—to join her for a week at a beach house in North Carolina. The quartet have a shared history but seemingly little in common in the present; once playing Jersey Shore loses its ironic appeal, boredom and frustration set in. Their solution is to party even harder, with disastrous consequences. The narrative doesn’t arc so much as slope down at a 45-degree angle—from the high of innocent fun to the depths of absolute moral vacuity—with a break in the dead center for a visually stunning, perfectly weird acid-trip scene, something like an excerpt from Inland Empire’s would-be nautically themed sequel. Between his previous film, Modern Love Is Automatic, and Vacation!, Clark seems to be developing a signature style of straight camp—as in both hetero and deadpan. Early scenes wink at male fantasies (and/or movie articulations of those fantasies) of what happens when girls get together without men (bicurious hot-tubbing, cotton-panty dance parties). This satirical spin falls away in Vacation!’s back half, replaced by a not-quite-convincingly-serious inquiry into the blurry line between self-destruction and sociopathy, self-interest and evil. But the psychedelic nightmare sequence alone is a solid testament to Clark’s singular aesthetic. (Karina Longworth, VillageVoice.com)