Quinn Shepard grew up appearing in kiddie movies like Unaccompanied Minors and From Other Worlds. At 20, she created a meaty role for herself in a challenging drama by writing, directing, and starring in Blame.
I saw this film last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was in awe not only of its complex look at a disturbing topic, but also just how damn good a movie Shepard made in her debut. You can see some of my praise in Blame’s first trailer:
It’s the start of a new year at a small suburban high school. Abigail (Quinn Shephard) is an outcast who seeks solace in the worlds of the characters she reads about, much to the amusement of her manipulative classmate, Melissa (Nadia Alexander). When an intriguing new drama teacher (Chris Messina) casts Abigail over Melissa in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Abigail’s confidence blooms, and soon her relationship with Jeremy begins to move beyond just fantasy. Melissa, fueled by vengeful jealousy, begins to spiral out of control and concocts a plot against Abigail. This triggers a chain of events that will come to affect everyone around them, as well as reveal some dark truths.
In light of all the news of sexual abuse, I understand the sexual content of Blame may make you uneasy. And it should. It’s meant to. However, the film does not romanticize the relationship that evolves between teacher and student. Instead, Shepard creates a narrative that exposes how lonely teens are uniquely vulnerable to predators, and also how such predators rationalize their actions and cover their steps. But it also acknowledges that teen girls possess and exhibit desire. Blame is at times unsettling, but told from a young, female perspective, it’s necessary and visceral.
Blame comes to Theaters, OnDemand, & Digital on January 5th.