“Project X” follows three friends as they throw a huge birthday party to “make a name for themselves.”
Thomas (Thomas Mann), the birthday boy, is turning 17, and his best friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) wants to throw an epic party to raise their social status and get girls. The events are all documented by Dax (Dax Flame), whom Costa hires to film the party.
The boys idolize Alexis (Alexis Knapp), who is the hottest girl at school and hooks up with college guys. The boys seem to have limited interaction with girls outside of the party, except for Thomas, who has feelings for his best friend Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton).
Going into the movie, I thought “Project X” would be about the morning after: the consequences that the boys faced after the destruction from the party and riot. The trailer makes it seem like the consequences are the craziest part, and it leaves the actual genre of the film open to debate. Is it a horror movie, a comedy, a drama? The handheld, shaky footage adds to the confusion as the style tends to be typically involved with horror films.
“I thought it was brilliant to do it that way, to kind of poke at the fact that, ‘Hey, this is what it’s always been like,’ and this is going to be very different,” Knapp said.
The major plot is the party itself. There’s a love triangle subplot with Kirby, Alexis and Thomas, as well as a small subplot with an angry drug dealer and a gnome with unexpected value that seems irrelevant until the end.
From the beginning of the movie, the teenagers acted like, well, teenagers, which was actually impressive for a Hollywood movie. I was amused by, embarrassed for and even a little jealous of them all at the same time, and the idea that the movie was just pieced together footage was actually believable. Many movies about teenagers are filled with things kids wouldn’t actually do or say, but in “Project X,” the parents’ acting was actually less convincing than the kids’.
The casting was effective too, as the kids mostly looked the part. Some even looked a little too young to be high school seniors, which is not the usual problem in Hollywood’s representation of high school.
“You know how you watch TV, and these actors have been in high school or college for 14 years, and they’re 30 in real life and they’re playing 16? This is not that kind of deal,” Blanton said.
The actors are also mostly unknown, which adds to the level of realness.
“When they were casting, if we had more than like a couple of things on our resumes, they were like, ‘Nope, too [well] known,'” Knapp said.
The movie is realistic, even with the crazy stuff that happens, except for a few details that seem off. For example, Thomas and his friends talk about how they’ve missed most of the parties their classmates throw. But they don’t actually seem drunk until the very end, even though they drink consistently all night.
However, by the end of the night, the kids look really messed up. They’re pale with glazed eyes, they’re sweating profusely and they’re stumbling around without purpose. The last scenes before the riot are the most realistic. By that point in the filming process, the actors actually were exhausted from filming.
“It was like a 14-hour party that you’re pretty sick of by the end of the night,” Knapp said.
“Not only that, but you know, we had to keep the energy up just because it’s all supposed to be shot in one day. And it wasn’t obviously, so we had to keep acting like it was the very first time every single day,” Blanton said.
While there’s nothing game-changing or award-winning about this film, it was still entertaining with both subtle and outright humor. “Project X” made me wish my time in high school was a little more exciting.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Ainslee Mac Naughton at Ainslee.firstname.lastname@example.org.