Color, 2010, 91m.
Directed by Zach Clark
Starring Trieste Kelly Dunn, Lydia Hyslop, Maggie Ross, Melodie Sisk, Michael Abbott Jr., Tara Everhart
Candy Castle (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9) / DD2.0


Imagine a frothy beach movie like Where the Boys Are ambushed by a bunch of mumblecore filmmakers on acid and you'll start to get an idea of what to expect from Vacation!, the third film from director Zach Clark (Modern Love Is Automatic). The set up looks familiar as four single New York gals decide to spend a weekend away from it all at the beach (inVacation this case North Carolina), but the sexual orientations are little more diverse this time. Dee-dee (Sisk) is a lesbian who neglects to tell her girlfriend where she's really going since she wants to make a move on switch-hitting Lorelai (Hyslop), while Sugar (Ross) has had the hots for Dee-dee since their dorm days in college when they roomed with the the straight girl out, Donna (Dunn). Accompanied by a frequently pulsating electronica soundtrack, they whip up some margaritas and settle back for some catching up, making out, and getting high, while a wayward surfer (Abbott Jr.) comes into the picture and tries to break into their circle. After an evening of shared psychtropics, however, things go downhill and take a nasty turn... very quickly.

DVacationon't let the low-budget veneer of the opening scenes fool you; this movie is nuts. What starts off like a talky home movie shot among friends over a lazy summer goes in some astoundingly weird directions, including the protracted trip sequence which, for ten minutes at least, suddenly swerves smack into Steven Sayadian (and if you don't know who that is, watch this). The '80s influence comes into full bloom here for a performance art segue loaded with day-glo colors, fish heads, non sequiturs, and wild scope compositions, spinning the whole movie on its head and announcing a second half far darker than the first. It would be wildly unfair to talk about where things after this point, but the most infamous bit involves sexual gratification and a blender. As a cinematic experiment it doesn't all completely work (some viewers who like the second half are bound to be a little frustrated with the first, and vice versa), but if you want to see something really different, here you go.

Self-distributed by Candy Castle, the DVD of Vacation! features an impressive anamorphic transfer of the feature itself, which was surprisingly framed at 2.35:1. The compositions look great, especially in the aforementioned trip scene and everything afterwards when the aesthetics change a bit.The Dolby stereo track does a fine job considering the source material; the dialogue and sound effects don't really sparkle particularly, but the catchy synth-laden soundtrack really pops. The biggest extra is an audio commentary with Clark and the female cast (who join him by phone and are more difficult to hear), recorded in the summer of 2012, almost three years after the film was shot. Topics include the filming locations, the genesis of the film while working on Clark's previous film, mishaps involving guests during the shoot, the tricky and successful lighting techniques, and some of their favorite performance moments, many of which again should be left without too much elaboration. You also get a reel of deleted and extended footage (mostly more partying and yapping, though it does get more interesting near the end), the complete "Miracle Bowel Cleanse" TV commercial (which only plays in pieces in the film), and a postcard and button inside the DVD case. Mix up your favorite cocktail for this one and enjoy the ride, but watch out for all the hairpin turns.

Reviewed on August 12, 2012.