Bottoms brought the blood to its SXSW premiere.
Creative duo Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott were on hand at the Paramount Theater two years after the premiere of their break-out feature Shiva Baby was set to premiere at the festival but was waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this queer coming-of-age romance, which doubles as a farce and action film, Sennott and The Bear breakout Ayo Edebiri star as two “ugly, untalented gays” — as they are described repeatedly in the movie — who launch a high school fight club. It’s all under the false pretense of female empowerment in hopes to duo can sleep with their crushes.
During the post-screening Q&A, Seligman and Sennott talked about their intentions behind making the film, which they started scripting in 2017, as creating a queer high school comedy that they wished they saw while teens. “[Young] female comedy is like girls finding a vibrator in the couch and going, ‘Oh my god! What is that? I scared!’” said Sennott. Seligman added, “We felt frustrated that we hadn’t seen young horniness onscreen.”
The director listed high school comedies like But I’m a Cheerleader and Saved, as well as Edgar Wright movies, among the film’s inspirations. Says Seligman, “I wanted to create a queer female story where characters weren’t undergoing trauma.” Instead, they underwent some bloodletting.
The movie did not shy away from its Fight Club inspiration, with the group of high school girls seen on screen punching each other in the face and high kicking, resulting in black eyes, broken noses and mouths full of blood.
The put-upon violence got big laughs, along with the jokes from Sennott, Edebiri, and the film’s supporting cast of Kaia Gerber, Ruby Cruz, Nicholas Galitzine and Havana Rose Liu among others. One-liners from football star turned actor Marshawn Lynch, who plays the girls’ inept history teacher and the club’s faculty advisor, drew some of the evening’s biggest laughs.
“If I had seen this when I was 16 it would have made my life slightly easier,” said Edebiri, who was wearing a matching blood red ensemble to Sennott’s. “And slightly harder, as well.”
Bottoms is due out later this year via MGM’s Orion Pictures.