Craig Paulsen’s comedy/drama, Romp takes a look into the obsessions and perversions of the 1950’s nuclear family.
Norman Face (Michæl Cavanaugh) learns that he has been diagnosed with a fatal disease and as a result, becomes obsessed with planning his funeral. He forces his family to hold rehearsals in the backyard and the living room while he directs wearing a t-shirt reading “Ignore me I am deceased.” His family is just as nutty. Youngest daughter, Peenie (Kylee Cochran) is a chronic masterbater with a crush on the gay milkman. Older daughter Jeenie (Stephanie Richards) dreams of moving to Paris while having romantic interludes in her bedroom with her boyfriend who will soon be shipped off to Korea. Judith Face (Julia Leigh Miller) is the ultimate 50’s mom, coolly sitting by while this circus goes on around her. Minor characters like the gay doctor’s office receptionist, Be Be Creech (Sebastian DeVincente) and paperboy Sweet Lou (Pace Paulsen), lend to the madness; providing comic relief at all the right moments. As the story progresses, we learn there’s a killer on the loose in their idelic town of Happy City and that Norman has dirty little secret or two in his closet. After a few surprising twists and turns, the film’s climax is both ridiculous in its tragedy and telling in its take on the supposed perfection of the 1950’s family.
The only complaint I can think of is that Romp is too long. It appears to be a common problem with many indie productions. This film could easily be trimmed down to 90 minutes and still convey all of its wit and wisdom. The black and white digital video looks great, lending to the film’s overall excellent and well executed production values. The acting is also well above average, with an excellent performance given by Cavanaugh. It’s often difficult to find capable older actors for indie productions and Cavanaugh delivers as the cracked up family patriarch.