Electrick Children movie review


Every once in a while it can be refreshing to watch a really weird independent drama that makes you think. The other day, I stumbled across one that was just very uniquely interesting and different, more so than anything I’ve ever seen before.

“Electrick Children” is a movie about a young girl named Rachel McKnight (Julia Garner) from a very strict fundamentalist Mormon compound in southern Utah where she is very cut off from the rest of the world. When she is in a religious interview with her father who is the leader of their break off Latter Day Saint church (Billy Zane) she is introduced to the compound’s new cassette player. She is so intrigued by the new device and can’t wait to get her hands on it.

Later that night, Rachel sneaks into the cellar while her family is asleep. She discovers a mysterious blue cassette and plays it. It plays “Hanging on the Telephone” by the Nerves (made famous by Blondie.) This new music fills Rachel with rapture and she falls in love. She gets caught by her brother, Mr. Will (Liam Aiken) and when he and Rachel are fighting over the tape their mother catches the both of them in the cellar.

Weeks go by, and Rachel is seen hiding her feminine products underneath her mattress, soon she realizes that she’s pregnant. Her mom takes her into town to get a pregnancy test, which confirms her suspicion.

Rachel claims that she had an immaculate conception, like the Virgin Mary and that the voice she had heard on the tape was the thing that impregnated her. Of course her family doesn’t believe her. They arrange a marriage for her because they believe Rachel can’t be a mother without having a husband.

Rachel panics and drives herself to Las Vegas in order to try and find the father of her child.

tumblr_myfrseM2FT1rugsgfo1_500Rachel meets a punk band being kicked out of a club and she becomes acquainted with Clyde (Rory Culken), who offers to take her with them back to his place. It’s not Clyde who grabs her attention though. The lead singer, Johnny (John Patrick Amedori) has a picture of a blue tape on his t-shirt and Rachel is convinced he is the father.

She and Mr. Will, who happened to be in the back of the truck, follow the band around. Mr. Will pleads for Rachel to record her confession for her father so they can go back to the compound. Rachel refuses to give up on her search, she is determined to find the voice and marry him.

Fate leads her to meet her biological father who helps her and her new husband out.

I was a bit confused at certain parts about why characters did what they did. I had a hard time understanding Mr. Will’s character the entire movie, but it kind of became clear to me near the end.

The way it was filmed was lovely. There were some really beautifully shot scenes that kind of covered up the fact that the movie was so low-budget.

I feel like the movie, altogether, just could’ve been improved. The cast was stellar, Julia Garner has so much potential, and I just feel like this role did her little justice though she did do a great job.

The storyline is very interesting, and well written, though a bit unevenly told. It’s quite a fantastic story that just takes you places. And somehow it is just pleasingly nonjudgmental. It focuses on two very extreme ends of the spectrum and it doesn’t make people look horrible for being ultra-religious and living on an FLDS compound as well as it doesn’t really make people look terrible when they prefer sex, drugs and rock and roll.

The whole idea, I feel, of the movie was to tackle the concept of Immaculate Conception versus virgin conception. I like how it’s open-ended and not very straightforward so you can believe what you want, just like in religion when certain people and sects pick and choose what to believe in.

You decide who or what got Rachel pregnant. It could be the music on the tape, it could be her father on the compound who could so easily convince her that what he was doing to her was “god’s work,” it could be Mr.Will or perhaps it was another boy at their church.

This lo-fi indie debut, written and directed by Rebecca Thomas was strangely, yet beautifully haunting. Rachel’s journey is an unexpected, brilliant new take on a coming of age/teen rebellion movie. I really enjoyed it. I give it an 8/10.