Fantastic Fest: Christopher Winterbauer on Youth, Grief, and “Wyrm”

Wyrm Christopher Winterbauer Christopher Winterbauer, director of "Wyrm."

Welcome back to More of a Comment, Really…, a weekly interview podcast hosted by Clint Worthington! Every episode will feature interviews with actors, filmmakers, producers, and more, giving you the skinny on the latest films and TV.

Navigating the muddy waters of teenage emotions and sexuality is hard enough: your body is growing and doing weird stuff, you can’t figure out what you’re turning into and forgetting who you were, and you’re just so horny all the time. But what if the awkwardness of teen sexuality was codified and bureaucratized, and what if that was just the start of your emotional problems?

That’s the essential gist of Wyrm, Christopher Winterbauer‘s retrofuturistic dramedy that posits a school policy called “No Child Left Alone” in which kids are fitted with a signal collar that only unlocks after you have your first kiss. For Wyrm (Theo Taplitz), the last kid in his class to still have his collar, his journey to “pop his collar” turns out to be way more complicated than expected.

Wyrm
Wyrm

Doused in the bright, garish aesthetics of the late ’80s and early ’90s (imagine Lisa Frank meets 1984), Wyrm is a dry, droll coming-of-age comedy that hearkens back to the deadpan quirkiness of Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore. Adapted from Winterbauer’s short film of the same name, Wyrm expands its characters’ story from an isolated tale of arrested sexual development to a dysfunctional family tale about a clan processing the loss of one of their own in their own entertainingly distinct ways.

During its run at Fantastic Fest a couple of weeks back, I got the chance to talk to Christopher Winterbauer over the phone about his adoration for the analog aesthetics of ’80s and ’90s ephemera, the complex emotions of grief, and the long, winding road he took to take Wyrm from underdog short film to fully formed feature.

(More of a Comment, Really… is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Backblaze for sponsoring this episode!)


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