Screenwriter Zach Chassler and director Jeremy Kasten, who both worked together on the previous projects of The Theatre Bizarre [2011] and The Thirst [2006] as well as others, attempt to tackle perhaps the single greatest fear that many American parents have for their precious children school shooting massacres. This is a controversial subject especially if not handled correctly, the story these two filmmakers involve hints of bullying, highly inappropriate sexual relations with one’s father, complete with a supernatural element. Kasten works to provide a dialogue that would fit high schoolers, while he deployed a maggot wrangler all poured into a scant 73-minute film, which was distributed by Artsploitation Films on both DVD and Blu-ray.

The story opens with a traumatic and humiliating hazing bully video showing YouTube entitled ‘Locker Room Dungeon Boy’ forcing a male student with underwear wrapped around his head into a filthy toilet headfirst while repeatedly shouting super-negative homosexual terms at him. The actions of the few, aided by those with power to ignore because of others athletic abilities or parental guardians of wealth, can cause dreadful and deadly repercussions. Clearly this behavior in the opening has previous scenes incorporated into other films and television shows such as Heathers [1989], Pump Up the Volume (1990), The Final [2010] and criminal Minds “Elephant’s Memory” episode, just to name a few. As previously stated, one knows the backstory of the film, and therefore spoilers to telegraph themselves are very easy and are expected.  The scene transitions to four teenagers an introverted Alice “Mouse” Monroe (Sarah Rose Harper), former juvenile Scottie French (Brandon Thane Wilson of 2011’s Lovely Molly), a traumatized Katie Foster and Katie’s abusive boyfriend Louis Friend (Torey Garza) are being driven in a van across a river to their high school by Ms. Persephone (Clare Kramer). We are told they need to spend their summer vacation in detention to clean up the mess at their school. This all occurs at night, no reason given, and as they work, four masked individuals wearing all black including trench coats commence operations of chaining up exit doors from the outside. As they work, they encounter supernatural elements, and the audience witnesses intercut flashback scenes (quick-fire editing skills) between them and these other individuals, as they storm the school with force, cruelty, and guns. As the night and punishment continues, they seem to indulge in their own carnal desires and play hooky from their intended project, they also seem to be irrelevant to the assailants. Some of them do experience head tripping scenes including scarification of ancient, bizarre symbols and even maggots crawling on one of the women (which needed a maggot wrangler on the set). I wonder if the maggots had union representation, since there’s a lot of them? The audiences learn quite a bit from hints in the flick about the cast of teens, some of them are very sick and disturbing.

For all the criticism the movie suffers with from the subject material (which is not proper, art often reflects society and sometimes projects onto it) and the storytelling, is fair game, it is all the effort behind the scenes which sadly becomes overlooked. The set design gives an unsettling look, that horror took place shown in the first act, here the audience was more unsure of what occurred, it attempts to paint an increasing disturbing look for the viewers. The special effects come from Autonomous FX, primarily created by the firm’s co-founder Elvis Jones, as the masks represents the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, sadly not all of the effects are practical mixing with CGI, likely hinder by time or cost. Those with knowledge of Greek mythology and the Dante’s Inferno story will have an upper hand in understanding some for the underlying references, such as the serpent circle of accepting and remorseful to ones’ greater sins. In addition, one should note the name Persephone, she is known in Greek Mythology as a goddess, abducted by Hades and rules/controls the Underworld, namely the dead.  The four primary students note the excessive heat rises, and how streamers reflect a fiery image on the walls.

The filmmakers wanted to take viewers on a twisted path, an alternative universe of The Breakfast Club (1985), incorporating psychological tormenting scenes, but the exploitation doesn’t feel complete, rather it leans towards sympathy for the Horsemen Group. There’s an attempt to balance the realities with horror aspects, but the back-and-forth editing, disrupts all suspense, and there’s a strange conservation occurring in the story about redemption of one’s soul versus their sins, and how that is changed from what occurred on that fateful day, which borders on religious horror topics, but fully explored.  Therefore, understand there’s some shocking imagery, but the torment of fear acting from the other students’ victims might be on par for a film of this nature.

IMDb Rating: 3.1/10

Baron’s Rating: 3.5/10