Feature Film Online: Bob Moricz’s Bumps
Bumps, by Portland-based underground filmmaker Bob Moricz, is a brutally raw and honest fictionalization of the infamous “pregnancy pact” made by a group of teenage girls several years ago at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts. The film is a true collaboration between Moricz and his cast of six extremely talented, natural young actresses, all of whom share writing and directing credit with the filmmaker.
Actually, whether there ever was a real pregnancy pact made in Gloucester is up for debate. While several girls did get pregnant simultaneously at that high school, the idea that they did it in collusion may have just been a fever dream conjured up by the principal.
However, Moricz and his cast fiercely forge ahead as if the story is true and come up with a troubling tale of wayward girls gone wrong. I’m assuming the entire film was improvised through its painfully genuine and naturalistic overall feel. The film doesn’t feel like a case of a middle-aged man telling teenage girls to say and do outrageous things. Instead, it feels like the girls came up with with their characters’ mean-spirited, rotten, delusional dialogue on their own, creating an unflinchingly candid look inside the minds of a bad girls clique.
The six girls are the only characters appearing in the entire film. Boys — and men — are talked about endlessly and, even though the girls do eventually get knocked up, none of their suitors appear in the movie; nor do any adults. The absent families they rail against are indeed truly absent from the entire movie. Thus, the film is very claustrophobic as the girls are stuck in a self-confined hell they cannot escape from. Getting pregnant and having babies will trap them even further, even though they view their decision as a weird kind of escape.
Through dialogue only, the film is very sexually frank. The girls have only just discovered the power their bodies wield over men. Sex is an empowering act, as long as they remain in control of their own sexual desires and the desires of their chosen partners. One girl spends almost the entire film seducing a man, only to be turned off when he appears to want to be seduced, thereby taking away her most valuable power.
While all the girls — actresses Annie Kenny, Athena McCoy, Nicky Street, Elizabeth Romero, Audrey Kovar, and Teresa Decher — deliver phenomenal performances, the real standout is Annie Kenny as the maliciously evil Marcie, the one who convinces the other girls to go along with the pregnancy pact in the first place. Marcie is manipulative in the great Lady Macbeth tradition, except her “king” is actually a queen, Alexa (Teresa Decher), the prettiest, most popular girl in school.
The rest of the girls also have developed great, well-rounded characters, from the slutty Debbie (Nicky Street) to the disturbed Mina (Audrey Kovar) to the cheating Marina (Elizabeth Romero) and the token “nice girl” Nancy (Athena McCoy).
Also, there is one other “character” who does pop up in the film from time to time, but generally as only the disembodied voice behind the camera: Filmmaker Bob Moricz, whom we hear directing the girls and, in one scene, we see editing the picture. Moricz’s “appearances” can be jarring, but after awhile his intrusion is a nice respite from the otherwise relentlessly bleak film, and a soothing reminder that what we’re seeing is a fictional film, no matter how much of it rings true.
P.S. There was a recent Lifetime movie of the week based on these same events called The Pregnancy Pact starring Thora Birch in the contrived role of a journalist investigating the pact’s truthiness. Although I didn’t see this film, the description sounds as though the plot takes away the focus on the teens at the real heart of the story, the exact opposite approach than the highly successful Bumps.
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“The Pregnancy Pact” actually spends more time with the pregnant teenagers (and one teen in particular) than it does with the journalist character. It’s still awful, though. “Contrived” is precisely the right word, in the grand Lifetime tradition.
Interesting. If I ever cruise by it on cable, I might have to give it a try just to compare.