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Film / Incest! The Musical

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"When I was first thinking of ideas for a project, I keep thinking: You know, it would be really fun to do a musical about something horrible."
— Director Grant Reed

Incest! The Musical is a quirky 2011 Romantic Comedy student Short Film that was funded on Indiegogo. It's pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Twincest and Spontaneous Choreography.

It was created by Kai de Mello-Folsom and Grant Reed. It stars Barrett Crake, Katy Yoder, Robyn Mack, and Tyler Mann. It was the Thesis Film of students at Chapman University, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

The plot revolves around Alex and Katie, who are meant for each other. Alex is student class president, and Katie is valedictorian. They're also twin brother and sister.

It's available on YouTube here and Vimeo here.


  1. "Wrong Kind of Love"
  2. "Ten Years"
  3. "Chemistry"
  4. "I Know It's Wrong"

This short film uses the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Jenny, although it's a Downplayed Trope. Jenny has an overt crush on Alex. She's a slightly annoying Motor Mouth, but there's nothing really wrong with her. It's just that she's not Katie, and so Alex is utterly uninterested.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The premise of the film is the feelings between twin brother and sister Katie and Alex. It's very much Played for Laughs, but no less earnest for that. The film is definitely of the opinion that these two should be together.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The film opens with Alex Dreaming the Truth about his feelings for Katie, then waking and sitting upright in bed. It's not a nightmare, per se, but it is a shocking dream.
  • Chick Magnet: Alex draws admirers by just walking down the hall at school. But he only wants his sister.
  • Concert Climax: The climax occurs at prom, which flows easily into the Dance Party Ending.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film ends at prom, with the whole school dancing to "I Know It's Wrong."
  • Dark Reprise: "Chemistry" is an upbeat song about Alex and Katie getting excited about liking each other. Later at prom, Alex sings a few lines of it after Mark punches him. This time it's a sad acapella version—especially because the end of the line is left unfinished.
  • Delayed Reaction: At prom, when Alex kisses Katie, it takes Mark a few moments to parse it. He punches Alex—then apologizes—then says, "What the hell man?!"
  • Disposable Fiancé: Katie's boyfriend Mark. He's nice, but they're a poor match. He's not as smart or ambitious as her, and they don't seem to have many common interests. A whole song is dedicated to Katie realizing that if she and Mark were still together in 10 years, it would be a mess. (In a 23 minute movie with only 4 songs, this is a lot of time to spend on establishing this.) Even if not for Alex, it seems likely that Katie and Mark would've broken up soon anyways. Justified Trope, because Mark isn't her fiancé or anything close: He's just her high-school boyfriend, and it's really no surprise that he's not the right guy for her.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: In "Chemistry" a spotlight is used as part of the musical number.
  • Dreaming the Truth: The film opens with a dream sequence that makes Alex realize he's in love with Katie.
  • Drinking on Duty: Their school counselor drinks openly and frequently at work.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the form of songs, because it's a musical.
    • "Wrong Kind of Love" for Alex
    • "Ten Years" for Katie
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Incest! The Musical is a musical about incest.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During "Ten Years", the airline company is called Receding Airlines.
  • Follow Your Heart: "I Know It's Wrong"
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: When Alex sits down next to Katie in chemistry class, they use a bit of Spanish and French. Justified Trope, as it's in the context of them kidding around—it's not supposed to be serious, or closely resemble native use of either language.
    Alex: Hey, hermana.
    Katie: Salut, mon frère.
  • High-School Dance: The final third of the film takes place at prom.
  • I Am What I Am: The film ends with Alex and Katie happily proclaiming "I know it's wrong, but I just don't give a shit."
  • "I Want" Song: "Ten Years" for Katie.
  • Lip-Lock Sun-Block: Inverted Trope—when the leads kiss during "I Know It's Wrong," you can see their faces right up until they kiss, at which point a bright gym light obscures them.
  • Love Epiphany:
  • Meaningful Echo: Early in the musical, Katie sings, "In 10 years I'm not sure where I'm gonna be, but I know for sure that my name will be known, be it Nobel or Pulitzer or Tony or on TV, I'm moving up in the world..." Katie has a lot of big dreams, any one of which might be doable... but considering she doesn't even know which one she wants, the whole thing comes off as pretty naive. At the end, she sings, "In 10 years we'll be happy together"—one clear achievable goal.
  • Moral Guardians: The school staff thinks it's important that the student president and valedictorian not be allowed go to prom with their twin.
  • Motor Mouth: Jenny. It's not clear whether she's always like this, or just around Alex.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: This story pretty clearly adheres to the Adaptation Hypothesis, meaning the songs are non-diegetic (part of the storytelling rather than part of the story). This is made apparent during "Chemistry." It starts out with just Alex and Katie singing in the hallway, but then escalates. At its height, there are dramatic spotlights and backup dancers. But at the very end of the number, all that cuts away and we're left with Katie and Mark kissing, alone and in a different room than the dance scene took place in. However, this is not a new screen—their kiss is the culmination of the whole song. This shows pretty clearly that—in this movie—song and dance numbers are symbolic, rather than literal in-universe events that actually happened.
  • Necktie Leash: The boy who draws phallic compound diagrams and has a crush on their chemistry teacher is delighted when said teacher uses his tie to pull him to her.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Principal: And I thought I'd seen everything, and that includes an unfortunate incident last year involving one of the frogs used for dissection...
  • Pair the Spares: Subverted Trope. At the end, Mark tries to Invoke the trope by going over, siting down next to Jenny and putting his arm around her… and she Defies the trope by telling him to get lost.
    Jenny: Fuck off.
  • Plot Parallel: The main plot is about twincest couple Alex and Katie getting together. There's a Teacher/Student Romance subplot wherein the boy who draws phallic compound diagrams and their chemistry teacher get together. In the Dance Party Ending, there are several same-sex couples dancing. There's the line about how the PTA is boycotting the theater department's production of RENT because of its "depiction of non-normative sexual relationships." There are several references to Titanic (1997)—the story of romance with an Uptown Girl. This all builds toward the message that no consensual relationships should be categorically banned.
  • Record Needle Scratch: At prom, Alex rushes across the room to Katie and the music swells. Then he kisses her, and there's a record needle scratching to a halt, indicating not their surprise so much as the bewildered shock of everyone watching them.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Downplayed Trope, as a 20-minute film doesn't have a whole lot of time for character development, but Alex and Katie. Alex is the passionate, reckless red oni—he claims that no one would mind if they were together, and he kisses her at prom. Katie is the more cautious blue oni—she points out that their parents would mind, and that they probably should adopt instead of having deformed kids.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The whole film has a bit of this. Twincest! With upbeat musical numbers! Special mention goes to the ending, where after seeing the Harris twins kiss, their classmates joyfully have a Dance Party Ending.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The name Alex Harris may be a shout-out to Alexander "Xander" Harris of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Titanic (1997) is their prom's theme, and so it's mentioned a few times throughout the musical. Most prominently is the opening scene.
      • When Katie gets the letter announcing she's valedictorian, the address reads "240 Winslet Ave / Kensington, IN 46299" in an allusion to Kate Winslet.
    • Their school is called V.C. Andrews High School. V. C. Andrews was the author of Flowers in the Attic, as well as other incestuous stories.
    • During the song "Ten Years" there's a scene where Mark is working at a Greek coffee shop called Oedi's, an allusion to Oedipus the King. The chalkboard says, "Try our new familial frappe!"
    • The "Cradleface" shirt
      Alex: It looks like a gift from a skinhead's baby-shower.
      Katie: I was thinking it was more like "Baby Gap presents the Tim Burton line."
      Alex: And now we come to the shirt from the late period of Charles Manson.
    • Jenny tells Alex that the PTA is boycotting the theater department's production of RENT.
      Jenny: So did you hear that the PTA is going to boycott the theater department's production of RENT? It's something about their depiction of non-normative sexual relationships.
    • Alex claims, "Donny and Marie got away with it [incest]."
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Downplayed Trope, but the first verse "I Know It's Wrong" starts with Katie giving what sounds like the beginning of a philosophical speech and ends with "I just don't give a shit."
    Katie: The minute you're born they tell you
    To grow up in a certain way
    And now that I've made it this far
    Am I supposed to throw it all away?
    But now my heart compels me
    To toughen up and follow it
    I know it's wrong
    But I just don't give a shit
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: Katie acknowledges that the neutron joke is terrible. But she appreciates it anyway, and when Mark doesn't, that's a sign that they're ill-suited to each other.
    Alex: Neutron walks into a bar, orders a beer. The bartender smiles and says, "For you, no charge."
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Not only is it a musical, it has The Musical right in the title! They're not going for subtlety with regard to the musical theatrics.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Katie points out that inbreeding really isn't much of a problem.
    Katie: It doesn't matter—we'd adopt.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: In the background, between the boy who draws phallic compound diagrams and their chemistry teacher.
  • Third Time's The Charm: Probably unintentional, but the first time Alex kisses his sister at school, Jenny sees, and she tells the school staff. The second time he kisses his sister at school, her boyfriend punches him in the face. The third time he kisses his sister at school… nobody minds and their classmates all willingly become backup dancers for them.
  • White Man's Burden: Briefly parodied in Katie's song "Ten Years."
    Katie: Traveling the globe I'll show compassion and sympathy
    Ethnics say hello to your saviorrrr!