Acid Test (
written and directed by Jennifer Waldo,
starring Juliana Destefano, Mai Le, Mia Ruiz, Reece Everett Ryan
It’s 1992. Jenny (Destefano) is about to turn 18 and needs to make some decisions about her future. Her domineering father has already decided she is going to go to Harvard but Jenny isn’t sure about that. Maybe there’s something else out there for her. She meets her pal Drea (Le) and they head out for the night. A concert. A Riot Grrl concert. Bad boy Owen (Ryan) offers her a tab of acid. Her mind is blown. Soon she’s cutting her hair and felt-tipping slogans on her body. Soon she starts standing up to her father and questioning why her Mexican mother doesn’t ever speak Spanish around the house. She’s liberated. Rebellious. Free. If change is ahead for Jenny then America is on the brink too. Clinton is glimpsed in numerous archive clips. And Ross Perot.
Based on the reminiscences of first time feature film writer/ director Waldo, Acid Test is enjoyable if a little underwhelming. It’s written and directed with competence if no great flair and much of the film is carried by a strong performance by Destefano and an even better one by Le as the worrisome “straight edge” best friend.
The revelatory psychedelic sequence is a touch underpowered, all motion blur and glitchy colours, though possibly more relatable and realistic than the usual phantasmagoric liquid light show stylings of most on-screen trips. And the live music scenes are incredibly polite. Almost like punk rock, or Riot Grrl never happened.
Acid Test is released on digital platforms in the USA on October 4.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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