Y2K

By Alex Backstrom | Sci-Fi
On the eve of Y2K, a ragtag group of teens fight to reclaim their futures... by ensuring humanity still has one.

It’s the end of 1999, and everyone is up in arms about what will happen when all the clocks roll forward to 2000. Will chaos reign? Will the world shut down? At this point, no one quite knows.

Meanwhile, young teen couple Ivan and Jessie have gathered at their friend Scott’s garage-slash-hangout spot to watch the countdown together. The trio, it seems, are barely friends, thanks to Ivan’s sarcastic, openly dismissive attitude towards “third wheel” Scott… who clearly seems to have feelings for Jessie.

But before the three of them can really hash out the drama lurking underneath their group dynamic, year 2000 finally rolls around. And what happens next is chaotic and crazy, indeed, in a way that the three teenagers did not anticipate. Now the group has to get over their differences to save the world — but the outlook does not look so good.

Writer-director Alex Backstrom’s sci-fi short is a blend of teen comedy with apocalyptic thriller, with sneakily accomplished writing and a genuinely entertaining touch. It begins in teenage rom-com mode, using deft dialogue and smart, brisk editing to establish the group dynamic (and the dramatic circumstances) with brevity and confidence.

Ivan is clearly the cocky, mean-spirited jerk with an intelligent, kind girlfriend who’s way too good for him, while Scott is the archetypal smart nerd secretly in love with her. It’s a trope familiar from many teen films, as is the slightly arch, smartly witty verbal pitter-patter between them, reminiscent of the golden age of teen films in the mid-to-late 90s. It’s all brought to life with great panache by the cast of young actors, who manage to reel off banter with aplomb while playing the genuine feelings of insecurity, longing and resentment underneath the worlds.

Establishing the group’s tangled loyalties and feelings pays off when the film escalates into sci-fi territory, complete with the dynamic lighting and camerawork of a thriller. The tempo and pacing — along with terrifically dramatic sound and score — ratchets up with the descent of an unlikely Y2K interloper, and the tone toes the line between self-aware humor and genuine suspense.

The wild ride eventually takes us to a climax that not only pays off the thriller set-up, but the emotional story as well. But before the warm-and-fuzzies can set in, there’s one last twist — which, sadly, makes total sense, especially since we know who these characters are so well by the film’s end.

“Y2K” is highly entertaining and ultimately more than a little ironic, and though the film’s physical and narrative scope are confined to one location, it evokes a bigger feel with its confident craftmanship. The short’s intersection of teen romantic triangles with apocalyptic narratives feels fresh and fun, showing that even at the end of the world, love and romance are still strong yearnings that fuel our actions — and a douchebag will always be a douchebag, no matter what.




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