Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The School (2018) - Movie Review


https://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.com/Always a good sign when you go into the cinema, and the only other people in attendance are cast members for the movie and even they’re surprised that anyone else bothered to show up. Yep, we’re in true-blue local Aussie film territory with this one, meaning that a large amount of those reading either won’t be able to see it or just plain won’t see the fascination in productions like this outside of some possible local colour. Which is really a shame because this is a film that definitely deserves some recognition.

The visual aesthetic here is easily one of the most striking I’ve seen out of an Aussie production all year, if not from any film all year. The moss and chalk-covered walls of the titular School, a realm of the afterlife where kids and teenagers end up, looks Trent Reznor's take on the Lost Boys of Neverland. The make-up work on the actors is mainly adequate, since it sticks to either pales of the dead or tribal war paint, and the atmosphere around them is quite thick with this almost-mythical air that this indeed where the dead go to die.

It even has its own cavalcade of creatures, from the Hungrys that stalk the halls for prey to the mystery spirit walking between the walls, leaving ripples in its wake. This is what low-budget cinema should look like: Putting every scrap of capital into visuals that work regardless of polish.

To do one better, it’s a visual style that serves terrifically to the film’s narrative goals, depicting doctor Amy suddenly ending up in this place and trying to figure out why she’s there and what is keeping her there. She serves as a decent twist on the usual brand of medical professional that media makes a habit of showing, so invested in the life of her patient that the typical emotional distance is nowhere to be seen. Then again, when said patient is her son, that distance is also quite impossible.

From that launching point, the film’s visuals and writing wind and twist around each other to spin a particularly grungy yarn about grief and how the inability to accept death affects the human heart. With how it drops the audience into the thick of it with Amy entering the School right at the start, this film has no time to waste and it certainly makes the most of what it’s got in all respects.

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