Nihilistic to the extreme, Chris Fuller’s fragmented narrative follows alienated youths as they somnambulistically shuffle through the houses, diners and parking lots of St. Petersburg, Florida, shortly after 1996’s notorious race riots. Cale (a pseudonymous Fuller, credited as “Lewis Brogan”) and Jason (Maynard) are two friends whose routine of drinking and fighting is altered by the arrival of a waitress (Tabish) who partakes in brief, passionless romances out of desperation. Each of the trio seeks some semblance of the real, either through meaningless violence, halfhearted stabs at finding love or, eventually, attempted suicide.
Written when the director was still a teen and completed nine years later, Fuller’s uncompromising debut piles on the experimental techniques, including a radical disconnect between sound and image (speeches by Afrocentrist activists and French poets are heard over scenes of bored white punks). The effect is both disquieting and effective, adding a political subtext that the film otherwise avoids. Though comparisons to Larry Clark and Harmony Korine are inevitable, Fuller’s singular vision and sense of genuine immediacy transcend the overplayed existential-teen-angst genre. In terms of low-budget filmmaking aspiring past its limitations, Loren Cass is the real deal.