Coming Soon: Spaghetti Junction (2022) - Reviewed


Connections are an integral part of being human.  As we traverse the byways of family, friendship, love, and loss, our memories and those whom we choose to surround ourselves with become both armor and weapon against the dangers that time will inevitably bring to our thresholds.  Kirby McClure's debut feature film, Spaghetti Junction is a neo-gothic fable that deftly blends feverish imagery with heartbreaking truths to present an unforgettable story in the heart of the American South. Featuring a talented ensemble, crisp imagery, and an ambiguous exploration of bereavement, this is one of the first genuine surprises of the year. 

August, a young girl recently disabled in a tragic accident, is navigating a family that is dying and a new life she never asked for.  After a cosmic encounter, she begins a journey with a mysterious stranger, hoping to find answers and a sense of peace while even stranger forces conspire against her and her newfound companion.  McClure's script draws inspiration from seminal works in the surreal familial genre. Comparison's to Malick are unavoidable, but the fantastical elements immediately conjure memories of Pan's Labyrinth mixed with Beasts of the Southern Wild.  McClure has created a pantheon of enigmatic presences both real and possibly symbolic that represent the battle that rages within all of us in the wake of the unthinkable.  The result is a handful of powerful, organic performances. 


Cate Hughes anchors the proceedings as August. Her pain and frustration are palpable, especially when contrasted with Eleanore Miechkowski's rebellious sister Shiny.  Both girl's approaches to dealing with loss are at odds in the microcosm of their family, made real by Cameron McHarg's kinetic turn as the girls' alcoholic father.  He is the somber bull in a China shop, both crippled with grief and furious with loss, and his approach to his daughters' various predicaments is instantly relatable.  Rounding out the cast is Tyler Rainey as The Being (The Traveler).  His pitch perfect delivery builds upon his natural chemistry with Hughes to invoke shades of Bowie and yet, despite the various influences, McClure continually ensures this is its own animal. 

Kristian Zuniga's evocative cinematography presents the modern South as a husk, a dead, or near dead thing struggling to maintain an identity and this is given form with wide shots of lonely, long abandoned shopping complexes and still flourishing forests, kept secret from the world beyond.  This is a story of dualities and conflict, particularly with the crisis of faith that has formed in August's center, leading to a metaphysical confrontation and a smile inducing conclusion that allows for individual interpretation. 


Now playing on the festival circuit and hopefully coming soon to digital streaming, Spaghetti Junction is a piece of human emotion that never shies away from darkness and danger.  Violence, blood, and strange, unknowable gods are at play in McClure's modern Garden of Gethsemane, and to know them is to know thyself.  Ultimately this is a story about picking up the pieces and moving on while understanding some pieces will forever be lost to the void.  It is what we do with what we have left that is of import and August's crucible will inspire long after the credits have rolled. 

--Kyle Jonathan