Ah, the vaporizer. Cigarettes’ libertarian cousin. The clean coal of smoking. The accessory that says “I left my fedora at home, but you get the idea.” It’s no exaggeration to say that vaping has captured the American imagination. Techno-futurists love it because it’s under-regulated and it glows. Would-be quitters love it because they’ve heard it maybe doesn’t cause that much cancer. Everyone else loves it because it comes in flavors like “Hulk Tears” and “Busted Limo” and “Churros and Ice Cream.” In VAPE, Shelly, a repressed LA realtor, falls backward into this humid, fruit-and-donut-scented world after a chance meeting with a hunky mechanic who beguiles her with his clouds of tasty dragon-breath. Aside from her awakening vapiosexual streak, Shelly just hasn’t got a whole lot going on, thanks to a sluggish housing market that’s turned her job into a slog of disappointing open houses and bland catering plates. Temporarily out of a home herself, she’s stuck hazing up the guest room of Alana, whose soothing substances of choice are daily multivitamins and adult coloring books. The resulting clash between old habits and new flavors unfolds at its own deeply mellow pace, warmed by a soundtrack of electric piano and blurpy synthesizer. It’s a mocking and yet deeply alluring PSA for the vaping lifestyle, remaining completely serious in the face of its own ridiculousness. -Jonathan Kieran.
Written/Directed/Edited by Doron Max Hagay. Starring Molly Hawkey and George McAuliffe. Cinematography by Arlene Muller.