The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
The older I get, the more I find myself into movies about grown adults regressing back to the behavior of their younger selves. Partly because it’s entertaining, but also because it’s something I think a lot of people, including myself struggle with in the modern age. Films like Laggies, Young Adult, and Frances Ha are some of my favorites that explore this theme, and Kris Rey’s newest film I Used To Go Here fits right in with them.
I feel it’s important to disclose that Kris Rey is an Alum of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, as am I. Every year SIU hosts their Big Muddy Film Festival each year, and in 2015, Kris returned to debut her feature film Unexpected. It was my first year as a student there as an aspiring filmmaker myself. I sort of felt it was my duty to review this film that’s set in a semi-fictional version of Rey’s and my own college campus. It’s great to see some indie representation here in Illinois and all the more exciting to see one starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement. I Used To Go Here is a situational comedy that I think many folks can resonate to in terms of going back to a place that once felt like your entire world and now feels like a completely different lifetime. Kris Rey comes from a mumblecore background, and there are still elements from that side of her indie experience style that shine through. At the same time though, I Used To Go Here is a departure from much of her earlier work. Rey is finding new footing as an independent filmmaker, and sometimes starting over like that can feel like going back to the place where you started.
When thirty five year old Kate gets a box of her ex boyfriend’s wedding invites accidentally sent to her address, she starts to unravel a little bit. With her new book tour being axed and all her friends having babies on the way, she takes up the opportunity from her old professor to come speak at her alma mater about her newly published book. There she rekindles with old acquaintances and befriends the students living in her old house who include her as if she’s one of them. However, she’s not one of them, but she starts to feed into their little dramas and take things into her own hands, resulting in some very questionable actions.
I think one of the most important scenes is when Kate realizes one of the students she is supposed to have a mentor meeting with has better work than her and that the professor that used to give her attention is now giving it to this younger and more talented pupil. It’s a weird dynamic that we can feel throughout the film without anyone really saying anything.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I’ve found Gillian Jacobs to be really good at playing flawed and complicated women. We’ve seen it in her role as the addiction struck Mickey in Love and the hypocritical hipster Britta in Community. As Kate, she showcases a more sophisticated, put together version of someone who feels like a screw up. The performance is tender and wise while still focusing on the irrational decisions Kate makes. I think the highlight of Kate’s character arc is her ability to own up to her mistakes immediately. It was really neat to see Jemaine in a role that required him to act like a regular day to day (also very flawed) professor, rather than some sort of caricature we are used to seeing him in. My only real issue was that he wasn’t in more of the movie. The college students she hangs out with, including the campus driver Elliot are all great and felt like people I would have met at school.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
...Fits right in with 'Laggies', 'Young Adult', and 'Frances Ha'
The coolest thing about this movie, for me, was seeing the establishing exterior shots of the real life city of Carbondale. I shouted “oh my god there’s *insert small business name here*!” every couple minutes. I really enjoyed the overall brightness of the production design. The bed and breakfast house was gorgeous full of whimsical charm while the students house across the street was an absolute mess. I think this was a cool way to show how much Kate hated the bnb’s call for responsibility (the key and curfew) while she gravitated towards the party house where there are no rules.
I Used To Go Here (2020) | VOD
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score has a really light flow to it overall. It’s at its best during moments when Kate is doing something that feels nostalgic to her, like when she goes to the lake or walks through the hallways of the lecture halls. I wouldn’t say it’s an afterthought, not at all. But like many indie films, the score is unfortunately a little hollow.
I often hear people talk about their glory days in high school or college and wish they could go back just for one day and this movie is a great example of why you probably don’t need to. If you feel like you peaked at 21, you’ll probably relate to this movie quite a bit. But more than that, I think there’s a lot of us that need to find ourselves again. Life changes happen, and they can hit you hard and fast. Whether you’re facing a changing career, changing location, or changing relationships, I Used To Go Here is a movie about taking a step back to take two steps forward. It’s now available for rental/purchase on Google Play, Amazon Prime, and Itunes.