High school is hard for everyone. Friendships are formed and dissolved. Relationships with peers are constantly in flux. Romances bloom and bust. Bodies go through rapid changes, some of which are welcome while others are horrifying. 

In ALTER’s new short film, LUCY’S TALE, the protagonist is faced with all the typical teenage issues…plus a little extra. The eponymous Lucy doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. She’s an outcast at school, where she is bullied by the other girls, including her former best friend. At home, her mother offers her little support and doesn’t hide her exasperation that her teenage daughter isn’t measuring up to her expectations, socially or physically. 

On top of her already full load of teen angst and high school drama, Mother Nature has thrown Lucy another challenge. Instead of developing breasts like her classmates, Lucy is developing something else: telekinetic powers that come with a new appendage. 

LUCY’S TALE, written and directed by Chelsea Lupkin, puts a gruesome twist in the coming-of-age genre in the tradition of Carrie and Ginger Snaps. The plot feels familiar to horror fans—but that’s not necessarily a detriment. LUCY’S TALE is an original take on the familiar that keeps the audience engaged, engrossed, and at some points, thanks to some hyper-realistic special effects, utterly grossed out. 

Throughout the 17-minute duration of the film, Irina Bravo wins us over as Lucy with her quietly intense performance. We feel sympathy for her as she’s victimized by mean girls and enters a bizarre form of puberty. We root for her as she has a romantic encounter with her crush. But we also can’t help but be afraid of her as she learns to harness her powers as a tool of revenge against her adversaries. 

Ultimately, LUCY’S TALE isn’t just a coming-of-age, revenge-driven film. It’s a well-executed and delightfully perverse body-horror that opens the door to more in-depth analysis of puberty, relational aggression, and the female body as both a target and a weapon. 

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