IFC’s "Goth Cruise"

by Ellen Wernecke

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday December 4, 2008

A scene from "IFC’s Goth Cruise."
A scene from "IFC’s Goth Cruise."  

The most surprising thing about Goth Cruise is that it's not actually about a boat full of goths. Sure, there are goths on this boat, but they represent a very small population of the passengers on this cruise -- about 6 percent of the ship's passengers. That's certainly a higher proportion than the world at large (though it is not known how much of the world's population considers itself goth in any stripes) but it's not, as the opening shots of the ship seems to suggest, a sea of people in black.

When these goths get together, though, they have a great time, and that's what this low-key film is all about. Without a real conflict to capture on film, director Jeanie Finlay lets the camera capture what is essentially a fun party filled with smart people who, while they often feel like outcasts where they live, can be truly relaxed when surrounded by 149 other goths.

And in many cases, a love for black clothes and goth music is the only thing these passengers have in common: Finlay catches a young couple on their honeymoon and a divorced Gulf War vet whose kids are just getting into goth; the boisterous architect might not, in his civvies, have much to say to the cross-dressing DJ whose parents have never seen his act. A pair of older goths express that, while a sunshine-dressed trip to Bermuda doesn't seem like much of a "goth activity," they want to vacation, too.

Without much in the way of stakes, "Goth Cruise" putters along with its message of acceptance for all, in the way that the few regular cruise passengers caught on video say sweet things about their dark counterparts. And if the film has a point, it's that mainstream anxiety about people preferring dark colors and listening to death metal is so five years ago; it's possible to be happy and well-adjusted and still never see sunlight.

IFC's Goth Cruise is available on IFC On Demand.

Ellen Wernecke's work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and The Onion A.V. Club, and she comments on books regularly for WEBR's "Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine." A Wisconsin native, she now lives in New York City.