Among the many tropes in raunchy young adult movies is the bizarre notion that college is always fun and exciting. Maybe this is because films are typically successful when they help their audiences escape reality, and a scene focused on a college student crying on the floor is too familiar.
But director Cooper Raiff approaches the crying on the floor scene in a way that let’s us floor criers know he gets it, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed.
“Shithouse” follows college freshman Alex (played by director Raiff) as he musters up the courage to attend his first college party, a huge step for a seemingly socially awkward young adult. He mostly stands against walls and sits outside, but at some point meets Maggie (Dylan Gelula).
Later that night Alex and Maggie burry Maggie’s dead turtle and “hookup”.
When they wake up the next morning the differences between Alex and Maggie serve as rude awakening for Alex.
Alex, who desperately is searching for companionship to fill the void of being away from his loving mother and sister, assumed Maggie would become his girlfriend.
Maggie, who seems unwilling to enter relationships as the result of the abandonment of her father, was just looking for a one night stand.
This sends Alex into a frenzy. He bombards her with messages over Instagram and gets into an argument with her at another party when he disrupts a potential “hookup” for her.
Their argument makes Alex feel more alone and he questions why Maggie is being “so mean” to him. But this doesn’t come across as misogynistic entitlement. It is more reminiscent of an innocent child wondering why the friend they played in a sandbox with threw sand in their eyes the next day.
This is what makes Alex’s pain feel so severe. Audiences witness a young adult learn that the world won’t treat him as kindly as the people closest to him. This is a hard lesson to learn, but one that everyone learns at some point in their life.
Eventually Alex makes friends and isn’t as lonely as he was in the beginning of the film.
Maggie lives her life as she was, but carries some amount of guilt and longing for Alex.
The end of the film shows the two eventually becoming a couple after two and a half years apart. It is a bit cliché but also doesn’t feel like the point of the film. Instead, the point is that college is hard and lonely. But college can also help you find what you are most passionate about. As long as you try.
“Shithouse” is now available on VOD.