What I'm Watching: Bad Kids Go to Hell
Up for a quickie review this time around is the indie film, Bad Kids Go to Hell. This is based on a graphic novel, as I discovered after the fact, and I can best describe this movie as Breakfast Club as done by Wes Craven or Stephen King.
I didn't really expect much from this. It looked like a fun little thriller, with a few moments of cringeworthy filmmaking from the trailer, but it had a few actors I like *coughcoughBenBrowdercough* and the premise seemed fun.
And you know what? This was a LOT of fun. It's far from perfect, and those cringes are certainly there, but most of the flaws came from strange choices in directing and editing, as well as maybe a story that gets a little TOO murky for its own good.
We have six students at Crestview Academy being hauled in for eight hours of detention to make amends for their crimes against the school. What were they? Why are they all there? Well, those mysteries all unfold over the course of the movie's 90 minutes.
Almost immediately you see the Breakfast Club parallels, and almost immediately the movie smashes those expectations. It was very smart to start off with someone saying NO, we are not going to bond and become best friends, none of that coming of age BS here! It was a refreshing change, and the movie delivers on that promise.
How? Well, the dead bodies start piling up fast.
Once the bodies start dropping, and talk of a curse goes around, the mysteries deepen beyond the students, and we get flashbacks fleshing out the backstory and mystery. And this is my biggest problem. The flashbacks were almost too sudden? Too similar to what we were watching in the now. You need a little more...something to signify a change in time period than an editing cut. It felt like I was missing something, until I realised it was a flashback. Once you get the language of the film though, you can follow along. But it was a dangerous gambit to just jump cut to another time period, that I'm not sure paid off, and could throw some people too far out of the narrative.
Aside from clear cues, the story does unfold very well, giving you piece after piece of the larger puzzle in a very satisfying fashion until the end. What an end. The movie piles up twist after twist, and for the most part they work. Just when you thought you've figured out the plot, the movie twists AGAIN with another reveal.
They went maybe one step too far during the credits, but it's not a deal-breaker. It just felt a little too tacked on and not really part of the story. Maybe just because we had had so many twists and masterminds behind the plot already, it was that straw that drove a hatchet through the camel's back. Also, they mentioned a few times that some exposition got left on the cutting room floor to tighten things up, but I think a BIT more exposition was needed for this movie. The plot is convoluted, and while you get the gist of it, I think the story could have been delivered with a bit more depth, clarity, and finesse.
The student characters are pretty much cast very well. They're not quite cliches, but there's enough familiarity that you can recognise them. There's a jock, but he's not quite JUST a jock, as you can tell instantly. There's the Bad Girl, but she's got depth to her, etc.
So, with a few stylistic points aside, and the typical level of acting for a low budget movie with a few exceptions, this is a fun ride. It's a unique premise, with fun, unique characters and a well thought out story. The delivery was lacking, but it got the job done, albeit with a sword instead of a scalpel.