Bad Kids Of Crestview Academy


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Bad Kids Of Crestview Academy
"It has good moments - some of which are so blatant as to seem traced - but even for a sequel this feels like it is treading ground that's so well travelled that genre features are named landmarks."

A film based on a crowdfunded graphic novel that's a sequel to another that also became a film, each readily and lazily described as somewhere between The Breakfast Club and Battle Royale, Bad Kids Of Crestview Academy is an oddity. Though its odd genesis and heavy-handed references reflect the gawky awkwardness of adolescence its charms are not enough to overcome its weaknesses.

It has good moments - some of which are so blatant as to seem traced - but even for a sequel this feels like it is treading ground that's so well travelled that genre features are named landmarks. Among those signifiers are members of the cast. Ben Browder, who directs, has roles in cult tv favourites Farscape and Stargate to thank for an infinite supply of invitations to science fiction conventions. He appears here as a mumbling janitor with some interesting pest control connections. Sean Astin, who had a small role in some films about jewelry disposal, plays the school's headmaster, filling, and this is far form the weirdest thing going on, a role filled in the preceding film by Judd Nelson. And there's Gina Gershon, whose wide-ranging career means she's firmly in 'that guy' territory - you'll recognise her from something, and it's likely that it'll be something she's good in. Here her turn as a politician with ambition is vital to the plot, in ways that get progressively more complicated.

There's a framing device - the film starts with a student in Crestview Uniform reading what appears to be an issue of the comic upon which it is based, and in a sequence interspersed with rotoscoped drawings atop the live action the film manages to borrow the infinite budget afforded by the pen and add ludicrous aircraft support to a more than intense SWAT response to an incident at the school. That sequence ends with a hovering bit of text - "eight hours earlier" sits on the screen like a physical entity, a bit of playfulness and film-from-comic logic that's more pleasing than almost anything done in the similarly over-helicoptered adaptation of The Spirit.

The young cast are good, but their roles are too heavily drawn to allow them many subleties. As Siouxsie, Sammi Hanratty is intent on detention in order to get into the school when it's otherwise empty. She's investigating what she believes to be a murder, but it'll prove to be far from the only fatality. Her fellow characters are drawn from stock, rich kids, introduced in a montage of delivery by parents who appear similarly stereotypical to the extent that even before they reappear in the bloody denouement there's a sense that we've seen them before. This is heightened, and to good effect, by a Rashomon-like sequence of revisits to a roof-top party where Siouxsie's sister died - each told from the perspective of one of her fellow detainees, each possessed of a bit more of what actually happened.

Eye For Film saw the film at 2017's Edinburgh International Film Festival, though it was notionally released back in February to get a Friday 13th. Your reviewer was one of the last left in the screening to witness a post-credits sequence that was potentially comprehensible to fans of the source works or intended to ground a further sequel. I think I referred to it as "an inevitable element in a witless genre homage" but ultimately that was a product of anger when the real feeling is one of disappointment.

Some of what I did not like is readily attributed to the source text - translating from one primarily visual medium to another is difficult enough even if one's root isn't by Alan Moore and one's budget isn't being wasted by Zach Snyder, and though there have definitely been substitutions (Porsches are much cheaper to draw than to film) its coarse work in places perhaps cannot be blamed upon a single author. It has some clumsy tonal variation, a bit of genre hopping, something that might be satire, some iffy vocabulary, drug use, violence aplenty, including a drill mishap that led to a note in my wee book that reads "meat swarf", and homage and reference aplenty. Unfortunately its sources often go uncited, though at times its inspirations are glaring. The film deserves marks for effort, but sadly not much else, and though it is an in places amusing riff on the perils of detention, it is sadly not worthy of your attention.

Reviewed on: 23 Aug 2017
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A group of detained teenagers get caught up in a series of killings.

Director: Ben Browder

Writer: Barry Wernick, James R. Hallam, Barry Wernick, Barry Wernick

Starring: Sammi Hanratty, Colby Arps, Sophia Taylor Ali, Erika Daly, Matthew Frias, Ben Browder, Sufe Bradshaw, Ashlyn McEvers, Ali Astin, Sean Astin, Drake Bell, Gina Gershon, Cameron Deane Stewart, Scott Edward Logan, Susana Gibb

Year: 2017

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2017

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