It’s often been said that movies reflect society, yet despite America’s terrible epidemic of gun violence, movies have rarely grappled with the issue, much less explored the topic of violence from the perspective of the often young, white men who choose to perpetrate it. Filmmakers’ reasons for staying away from this messy topic are understandable. After all, how do you impose narrative sense on something so senseless? That’s where Every Single Someone comes in, a movie that’s presented as a documentary but in reality is a fictional account of four college students’ descent into violence. It’s a fascinating but flawed story about a quartet of young men who believe doing terrible things to others will somehow improve their lives.
Every Single Someone centers on 19-year-old Lee (Luke Krogmeier), a sophomore at the University of Colorado. When his girlfriend Arlis (Megan Elisabeth Kelly) breaks up with him, Lee is unprepared for the emotional toll it takes on him. And after spending only a few days unsuccessfully trying to get over it, he comes to the conclusion that in order to be happy again, he needs to hire a hitman to kill his ex.
He shares his plan with his friends and roommates Kendrick (Keehnan Anderson), Owen (Sam Delossantos), and Damon (Garrett Martin), who are all between 18 and 20 years old, and after a brief debate, he convinces them that this is the best course of action. After meeting with hired killer Amos (Luke Towle), Lee and his friends are emboldened and start to lash out against anyone they feel has wronged them, and eventually even those who haven’t.
Initially Every Single Someone‘s faux documentary set up is quite convincing. The grainy 16mm picture, shaky camera work, flat lighting and poor sound all contribute to the cinema verité feel. However, the conceit quickly loses plausibility as the filmmakers gain access to every participant in the story, including the hitman, and are there to witness every crime as it’s committed. Unfortunately, when the spell of the movie’s documentary style is broken, it leads to other questions, like why a filmmaker would shoot on such awful looking and sounding equipment, given in 2017 and 2018 when the movie is set, mobile phones offered higher-quality cameras.
Nonetheless, Every Single Someone is undeniably interesting in its examination of incels and other men who believe their masculinity is threatened by everyday slights and minor sins. Writer and director Samuel Marko was only 20 when he filmed the movie, so presumably he’s familiar with the college-aged characters he’s depicting. And there’s a disturbing plausibility to the flawed logic of Lee and his friends and the almost casual way they start down a dark path, which makes the film both devastating and sickeningly engrossing.
The plot falls apart towards the end when it goes off on a tangent involving Amos. Moreover, the plethora of sequences of the filmmakers following various characters as they walk slows down the narrative’s pace and seems to simply serve as filler to pad out the movie’s 85-minute run time, while the faux-documentary style often obscures the details of the story, undercutting its message. Plus, given its subject matter, this challenging film is more thought-provoking than enjoyable. Still, Marko’s take on the topic is stimulating enough to make Every Single Someone worth watching for its chilling glimpse into the lives of seemingly average young men.