College party movies have long held on to the idea that college is the best time ever — cue some drunk guy in the background screaming, “I love college!” before falling backwards into a frat house hedge or similar — from the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise and “Animal House” to more modern entries like “Van Wilder” and “Accepted.” But what about the fun-loving college students who can’t quite have a good time with all that new-found freedom?
Such an idea seems to be the starting point for Cooper Raiff’s SXSW winner “S#!%house” (formerly known as “Shithouse,” and now cleaned up just a tad, all the better for more widespread movie marketing), which follows just such a guy (Raiff himself) as he stumbles his way through a lonely, decidedly un-fun freshman year at college.
In his glowing SXSW review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich noted that it was a shame the film “didn’t get a chance to screen at this year’s SXSW, because this knowing and funny nano-budget debut is exactly the kind of film the Austin festival exists to showcase. And that’s all the more true because it sounds like such a potential nightmare on paper: Written, directed, and co-edited by its reluctant 22-year-old star with some help from his friends, Raiff’s vulnerable DIY gem tells a coming-of-age story about a mopey college freshman who’s struggling with the whiplash of leaving home.”
As Ehrlich puts it, the film may follow a predictable path, but it does it in the best possible way, writing, “He meets a girl, they spend a magical night together, things get awkward in the morning but maybe they’ll still be able to help each other figure shit out… you know how it goes. It’s basically the Platonic ideal of the movie you’d expect from a suburban white American softboy who’s been raised on Richard Linklater and ‘Sex Education.'”
And while SXSW was canceled this year, the festival did still give out its juried awards, including a Grand Jury prize win for “S#!%house,” which took top honors in the Narrative Feature Competition. IFC Films soon snapped up the film, and it’s readying for a theatrical and VOD debut on October 16.
Before that, however, fans of winsome and witty college-set rom-coms are in for a treat. In Creative Company, North Bend Film Festival, and IFC Films are hosting a live Q&A for “S#!%house” this week, featuring Raiff and Gelula, moderated by IndieWire’s own David Ehrlich. The screening will take place on Thursday, September 3 at 6PM ET, and anyone interested in checking out the film can RSVP right here.
Until then, check out the first trailer for “S#!%house” (plus the film’s first poster and a brand new flyer for Thursday night’s screening) exclusively available on IndieWire, below.