25 February 2013

F 2010 (AKA The Expelled) - REVIEW

There are those times when I run across an ad for a film or read an article somewhere that declares it "a must see" that in turn makes me WANT to see it. You'd think I would've learned by now not to seek out films without doing a fair amount of research first. You'd think....

Robert Anderson (David Schofield) is not having a very good year. After being assaulted by a student he is forced to take an extended leave to avoid any repercussion by the parents of the boy. You see, even though he was the one who was punched in the nose, the incident was deemed his fault because "giving students an 'F' has long been against national guidelines" and is "nothing but humiliating for the child" therefore he provoked the student by belittling him in front of the entire class. Got it?? Good. So, it's no wonder that after a few months pass by and he is allowed back, he is a shadow of his former self... an emotionally drained, alcoholic who has separated from his wife (Juliet Aubrey) and losing control of his teenage daughter (Eliza Bennett). At odds with the principal (Ruth Gemmell) and scared to death of his own students, he's labeled paranoid and delusional by his fellow teachers and the rest of the staff. His delusions turn out to be justified when some "hoodies" break into the school after hours one night and intent on terrorizing those unlucky enough to be pulling double duty. Anderson must face his greatest fear while trying to save his daughter and make it out alive.

The entire film rests solely on the shoulders of Schofield who does a remarkable job at carrying it to the end. It's just too bad that nothing was done to give his character any sort of likeability. Yes, he's a tortured soul. Yes, he's just about lost everything good in his life. He's the perfect horror hero, but without seeing the transition from phenomenal teacher and father of the year to burned out drunk, there's nothing to really care about. He just comes off as a craggy teacher who's tired of dealing with spoiled brats all day. Aside from Bennett and Gemmell, no one else really has much screen time. There are a lot of faces that revolve in and out so often that without going back to the IMDb page, I couldn't even remember their names.

Solid films are built on top of a solid script that is built on top of a solid idea. What writer/director Johannes Roberts had here was definitely a great idea. The first twenty minutes of lead in were very strong but it all just seems to fall apart once the "hoodies" show up and everything becomes trite and contrived. This is also one of the few horror films I've seen in a while that doesn't have a single on screen death. And while there is plenty of gore in the aftermath, it hardly makes up for some of the other inconsistencies the film is bombarded with. For example, the "hoodies" cut the phone lines to the school but never lock it down so the likelihood that someone could escape is rather high. I could go on with this assessment but I'd be giving away too much of the plot and spoilers are something we don't do here. In the end, I left the film feeling a little cheated and insulted by the ending. If you're into films that are heavy handed with the jump scares but light on suspense, this is probably one that would get you. I'm a HUGE fan of British horror but I think this is one I'll pass on to my teenagers to watch during a sleep over... on a stormy night.

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