Greta Driscoll (Bethany Whitmore) is about to turn 15 in Girl Asleep, the new movie coming from Australian director Rosemary Myers. But Greta wants nothing to do with growing up, preferring to stay safely ensconced in childhood with the familiar, comfortable things she’s surrounded herself with. But something happens when, against her wishes, her parents throw her a surprise birthday party.
Greta suddenly finds herself thrown into a magical world filled with all sorts of mysteries and dangers, including sexuality, friendship drama and more. So the movie is very much using this kind of alternate world to explore the themes of growing up and coming to terms with who you are and what you have to leave behind as you move from being a child to beginning to become an adult. The movie is based on a stage production, so let’s see how it’s being sold to audiences both in Australia and elsewhere.
The poster sets the tone for this to be a magical type of adventure about a young girl. We see Greta just standing there with that look on her face that’s somewhere between quizzical and mortified, wearing a nice dress. She’s standing in front of a group of trees, their trunks strung with blue lights. In the background, something is visible peeking out from one of the trees, but it’s hard to make out what that is. Copy at the top establishes the story of this being about young adulthood by saying “Everyone has an awkward phase, but this is just unreal.”
As the trailer opens Greta is being tucked into bed by her very awkward father, whose short shorts and crazy shirt let us know we’re probably in the late 70s/early 80s time period. We cut to the first day of school, as Greta tries to make friends and winds up hanging out with a boy who’s just as awkward as she is. When he comes back to her house he encourages her to have a big party for her upcoming birthday, something she’s not a fan of. Then a mysterious box on the shelf opens and things take a turn for the surreal as we start seeing everything from what looks like a normal party to Greta riding a minotaur to people fighting to a trio of creepy girls and more.
The trailer opens with a critic pull quote saying it’s a mashup of Napoleon Dynamite and Where the Wild Things Are by way of Wes Anderson and that’s definitely the vibe that’s given off here. It’s funny in that dry Australian way and while it doesn’t feature any standout performances it does promise a…unique time at the theater.
Online and Social
The movie got a pretty decent official website. It starts out with a rotating set of stills of shots we’ve seen in the trailer, with a series of critics quotes overlaid in the lower corner to help sell you on this being worth your time. Below those quotes are links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles, where the team has been sharing photos, news and more.
Diving in to the content menu that’s on the right, the first section is “Watch the Trailer,” which you should do again. After that the “Where to Watch” section will let you know if the movie is playing anywhere near you when it opens. If you’re in Australia you’re in luck, if you’re in North America you better be living near a major metropolitan area.
The “Synopsis” that’s next will give you a decent overview of the kind of messed up story you’re getting yourself in for when you do see it. You can click through and read all about the people who made the movie in the “Cast & Crew” section.
“News and Reviews” will let you read some of the festival-based reviews of the movie to help make your mind up. What those screenings were can be found in the dedicated “Festivals” section that lists its appearances to date.
Finally there’s a “Gallery” with some stills and there’s contact information if you’re interested in booking the movie in “Festivals and Sales.”
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Media and Publicity
Most all of the press has been based on either the release of marketing materials or the movie’s screenings at festivals. And it has played at plenty of festivals where it’s picked up good word of mouth. The young cast also did some local Australian press rounds to talk up the movie.
There’s not a whole lot going on here, but it does kind of work. The campaign leans a bit heavily on selling the quirk of the story…Actually, that’s not true. The quirk is fine. I think where the U.S. campaign goes too hard in the paint is trying to align with movie as being in the vein of Wes Anderson and other material. There’s no need to make that overt a plea in the marketing to those kind of reference points since they’re noticeable and identifiable immediately to anyone who would understand them. It would have been better to leave those references out, I think, and let them be part of the press wave, findable to anyone who’s searching for the movie.
Outside of that quibble with strategy, I do like this campaign. It never quite comes together for me as a whole, but I get what they’re going for and this may be a case where it’s more targeted at a non-U.S. audience, so I’m not getting something about it. It’s not going to light the world on fire, but it’s obviously picked up somewhat of a positive reputation at various festivals, so it remains to be seen if the marketing has sold it accurately and well to the (slightly) larger audience.