AUGUST 27, 2010
In addition to boasting the most search engine-unfriendly title since P, F can also boast being one of the all time best high school set slasher films. Granted that's not exactly the highest praise (Yay, you're better than Slaughter High and Cutting Class! So are most infomercials.), but the bar for such things is set so low that I wasn't expecting much out of the film anyway. It's not perfect, but it's a solid, well shot slasher/thriller hybrid that fans of Ils (Them) or Eden Lake should probably appreciate.
It's also a really ballsy film to make, and I'm curious how well it will be received in the States, if its released there at all. We're not too big on anything involving students killing people at their high schools thanks to Columbine and the like, and the fact that it has a rather ambiguous, non-"triumph" ending will make it an even harder sell.
On the other hand, the killers are apparently all Parkour experts, and anything Parkour-related is welcomed with open arms here, even if it means ruining one of our most American-y franchises (Die Hard). At first it's pretty creepy to see the hooded, faceless killers silently bounding about on top of bookcases and such, but it gets a bit silly at times, as it seems they are incapable of just running on the ground. At one point they have a victim plain in their sights, and he's seen them as well, yet they jump up onto a shelf to continue the chase. And the kill scenes are all kind of the same, with one killer being seen and scaring the victim into the arms of the other killer (I believe there are only two).
However, they mostly all work, due to a good use of the school's environment. The wood shop, the gym, an office, a science lab... the backdrop never gets boring, so even with the slightly repetitive execution of the kills, its never monotonous. I do wish they had allowed for a few kill scenes with just one killer, as it seems our hapless faculty (and a few students) are always hopelessly outnumbered, which reduces the tension somewhat.
I also liked how it was pretty much in real time, a rarity for any film but especially for a slasher. Since they are not trapped inside, the obvious audience questions - "Why not just leave?" and "Why doesn't so and so notice that whatshisname is missing?" - are answered simply due to the fact that it's only been a few minutes since someone disappeared anyway. And as for why they don't just leave, with the exception of the main character played (terrifically) by David Schofield, no one knows anything is up, and when he tries to warn them, he is dismissed due to the fact that he lives in fear of the students anyway (at the top of the film we see a student attack him after he gives him a "F"ailing grade), and is also a drunk. And if you keep the realtime aspect in mind, you can assume that no one had the time to consider he might be right, since they end up dead not too long after that anyway.
Speaking of the deaths, godDAMN are they gory. The prosthetic work is terrific, and certainly unexpected. Some of them are off-screen, but they make up for it with a Fangoria-cover ready corpse when discovered later. And the kids are nasty - immolation, head smashing, electrocution... few get off easy. In fact, the "lightest" death in the film might actually be the one killer who gets offed, just a few stabbings. It's sort of refreshing to see the killer get a rather simple death, as it seems many modern slashers want their killer's "death" at the end of the film to be the most ridiculous and over the top.
Speaking of the ending, some hated it, but I liked the ambiguity. I won't spoil it (not really possible to spoil an ambiguous ending other than to say its ambiguous though, right?), but it's rare to see this type of a movie have an ending that people can discuss afterward, which makes it a perfect film festival option, because there are plenty of folks around who want to offer their theory on what might happen next or who the killers were. Thus, if you have seen the film (and I'm guessing many readers have - it seems my entire readership is there at Frightfest with me!), I encourage you to offer your thoughts below!
In my notes I wrote down "music" but I honestly can't remember what specifically I liked about it (definite drawback of seeing a bunch of movies back to back). I can tell you it was composed by a guy called Neil Stemp though, and that he worked on the execrable LXG, aka the film that killed Sean Connery's desire to work. Hurrah for the IMDB! I can cover my sloppy note-taking and even sloppier memory with random factoids.
What say you?