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Throw in all the social media stars you like, this teen drama is no fun.
Netflix’s new thriller You Get Me beamed onto our queues as a messy and fun guilty pleasure. But instead the schlocky movie fails to deliver schlocky delights.
You Get Me stars a bevy of generically attractive 20-somethings playing high school kids who do adult things. Halston Sage, Taylor John Smith, and Bella Thorne play Alison, Tyler, and Holly, respectively. YouTube star Anna Akana and Vine-famous Nash Grier round out the ensemble.
Alison and Tyler are in love in the way most teenagers are, which is to say they’re in love with the concept of being in love and not the reality. Summer is winding down and a last-hurrah party turns dramatic when Alison and Tyler have a dramatic fight. (Is there any other kind when you’re in high school?) Tyler storms off and makes his way into the car and, eventually, the bed of the new girl Holly. As it turns out Holly is unhinged and dangerous. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you’ve seen this before.
Wouldn’t you know it, Alison and Tyler decide they’re going to make things work. This displeases Holly immensely, so she begins methodically integrating herself into Tyler’s life. She infiltrates his social circle, some of his classes, and his house. If you’ve seen any thrillers of this ilk, you already know how You Get Me will play out. The fact that the movie is predictable isn’t necessarily bad, but the ways in which it is bad are predictable, and that’s my biggest gripe. The movie would be more entertaining if Holly’s antics went bigger: If you’re making a B-movie, take advantage. Have Holly rack up a ridiculous body count. Have Alison and/or Tyler match Holly’s mental state and turn it into a chess game played by psychopaths. Get weird, please. If you want to slum, get dirty.
Pin most of the blame on the writer, Ben Epstein, and director, Brent Bonacorso, for the film’s dullness. The actors, particularly the lead trio of Thorne, Sage, and Smith, are fine in their roles, they’re just not asked to do much more than be pretty faces. The kids here live in the world of affluent movie teens, meaning they’re free to do whatever they want with almost no supervision. Save for the occasional check-in, the adults are mostly here for occasional appearances and artificial tension. But that freedom is all for naught, as the characters are hemmed in by their phones and school schedules.
As the plot twists and turns, it’s like driving down a winding road and heeding every warning sign. Dull turns abound! Caution, pregnancy revelation ahead! Third-act violence upcoming!
The film is so focused on the love triangle that there isn’t room for a wacky sidekick or a scene-stealer to emerge. For the most part side characters are there to be pawn’s in Holly’s game, but this isn’t 12th-dimensional chess. It’s hide and seek in an empty room. That leaves a movie with zero imagination in its characterization and plotting. How much more fun would it have been if Holly were an unrepentant killer? Or if Tyler actually fell in love with Holly? There’s a point where we learn Holly’s backstory through a Google search and the headlines are fodder for a much more interesting movie.
Among recent movies similar, The Boy Next Door, Obsessed, The Perfect Guy, When the Bough Breaks, or The Roommate are better examples of what You Get Me wants to do. Make no mistake, they’re all bad movies, but at least their dopiness is amusing. When all is said and done, You Get Me is something you’ll forget about before the end credits roll.
Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.