Let’s go back to school (again).

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The alternate title of this film is #Squadgoals, but that name makes my teeth hurt, so I’m going to go with Deadly Scholars.

It appears that the only play ever shown in high school is Romeo and Juliet. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind seeing the classics, but starting with this sort of cliched atmosphere doesn’t indicate that the film will have anything new to say.

Schools have the potential to be inherently creepy. Old buildings with a lot of history, poor lighting, and long hallways should allow for some nice atmosphere. Here, we never get more than about four feet away from the actors’ faces, so any sort of setting is more or less wasted (this does exclude establishing shots).

The film isn’t horror—more of a thriller. We follow some cliché-ridden teens as something mysterious starts happening. Emily, our would be reported provides us our view into this high school that seems to only have about fifty people in it (take that for whatever it is), and a sudden death of a student opens a scholarship slot (okay?). Scholarships don’t really work the way the film presents them here, and I don’t know if this is the best set-up for a thriller.

We kind of have a who-dunnit, but too many red herrings and forgettable characters remove the fun-aspect of this sort of film. The mystery genre has sort of died off in film, and I’m not sure why. Granted, if this is the sort of film we are going to get I shouldn’t be surprised. The acting is okay—I guess. The writing is where this film truly collapses. The characters don’t matter, the dialogue is horrid, and the framing makes everything stilted and weird.

Mysteries work when we are centralized around the crime and are invested in discovering who it is through the eyes of the investigator. Here, we get weird asides meant only to give us exposition that the characters could not know. We have a sort of dramatic irony that works to undermine the plot more than make it interesting.

Just going to reemphasize that people don’t talk this way in real life. It feels more like the writers walked through a high school once and figured “good enough.” Knocking students off to increase career prospects is a stupid plot, and the villain’s reasoning is likewise stupid. Stupid movie. I’m surprised this wasn’t a Lifetime movie. Avoid this trash.

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