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In England, the teacher of the Wittering College Robert Anderson is hit in the face by a student and is forced to take three months vacation to avoid being sued by the parents of the student. Robert is affected by the incident and a couple of months later, he is emotionally disturbed, alcoholic and separated of his wife Helen. Their daughter Kate lives with her mother and has classes with Robert, but she does not respect her father. The principal of Wittering College, Sarah Balham (Ruth Gemmell), loathes Robert and wants to get rid of him, but the Union does not allow her to fire him. When Robert reads about violence in another school, he sends a memo advising the employees of the school and he is considered paranoid and delusional by everybody. One day after hours, Robert notes some strange movements outside the school and he advises the security guard James that does not give much attention to the discredited Robert. But sooner Robert realizes that the Wittering College is under ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is a great little psychological horror/thriller, and I really wish it was tagged as psychological because it seems as though some of the marketing and expectations of other viewers was more geared toward a standard gory splatter film. If that's what you're into then this may not be the film for you, but if tension and filling in the blanks with your own imagination is your thing, then you can't go wrong here.
The film does a great job of creating a realistic atmosphere and then slowly raising the suspense and this trend continues throughout. There is some graphic gore but it's used sparingly and parts of the narrative that would otherwise turn this into a non-thinker are wisely left out, which allows for a far more immersive experience as you draw from your own thoughts to complete the film. That isn't to say that the filmmakers have been lazy or simply ran out of ideas or money; it's all done purposely and it certainly achieves the intended effect. The unknowns are what make this film scary, and fear of the unknown is a far stronger emotion to draw on than fear of blood or gore. Also, the film doesn't fall into the (lazy) trap of using shock scares to make the viewer jump; the film stalks you as the assailants stalk the victims. This, as with most successful psychological horrors, is a more mature take on the genre and I am very glad of the break from formula.
In terms of production values, this doesn't fall into the B-movie category at all. The casting is great on all but one of the characters (I won't mention who, but it's a really very minor role which doesn't damage the experience) and the other actors all manage to realistically convey the fear that comes from being stalked by unknown predators. The video is crisp and the direction doesn't rely on cheap tricks like quick cuts, shaky-cam, or constant extreme close- ups, but goes for a more sedate approach which, again, allows for the tension to rise and rise. Audio production values are also top notch with an unassuming soundtrack peppered with the odd hint of spooky melody. Sound effects aren't over the top and increase the realism of the experience. I would have liked to spend more time in the college during a normal day to get an idea of the size and general layout of the place, as well as to contrast the emptiness of the building at night, but that's a minor gripe.
A lot of people appear not to have liked the ending, but (without spoiling anything) I will say that it fits with the rest of the film. It's largely a set piece production and, with the ending the way it is, there is scope for a sequel to expand on the events that occur in this film or, again, the viewer can draw upon their own thoughts and perspective.
Overall I found this film to be gripping, suspenseful, and with just enough innate malice and hold on reality to create a 'what if' situation where anybody, teacher or not, could see this happening to them at some point. I sincerely hope that a sequel will be made which maintains this level of self control over how much of the gore the viewer needs to see. It's certainly a cut above the formulaic slasher/splatter films that are all too common, and it's a lot more scary too.
27 of 48 people found this review helpful.
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