The Thinning is an interesting beast. It came out on YouTube Red, a $10/mo subscription service. The movie itself is on the shorter end, clocking on at a bit under 90 minutes, although that includes the credits and the intro sequence that lasts 15-20 minutes. This is not saying that sequence is unimportant, it's just not fully relevant to the full story and just serves as part of a back story for one of the characters.
The basic premise is that a school aptitude test helps deal with overpopulation by having the lowest scoring 5% executed. This is told through an opening text slideshow. Now this movie is pretty cliché. Government power, young people uprising, but at least it's a fresh spin. You can't help but cheer on the protagonists, although it's obvious they will win.
The execution method itself, lethal injection, is not shown until about halfway through the movie. In between the start and there, there is a good display of emotion from a first grade teacher who has to step outside to clear her head of the moral dilemma she faces. It stands out, but it's the only moment like this.
The twist ending could be seen from the beginning though. The twist is: the "executed" students are just taken to an underground facility where it appears the tablets for the tests are made. I realized from the beginning that this movie didn't have the guts to see the true death of young people through. The intro sequence includes the main character trying, and failing to save his friend from the thinning. It was then I theorized that the girl might come back. Sure, losing a friend is a good motivation, but it's tame in comparison to the "reality" of the execution of students. In other words, if it wasn't a large enough moral challenge in the beginning to prompt action, loosing one friend wouldn't do it either. So the sequence must have had more meaning that just motivation.
Another thing that tipped me off was that, throughout the film, even when the leads are being sought after by the government agents in the school, they rarely encounter the agents, and the times they do, they easily take them down. The rest of their time is spent very successfully hiding. It's too easy.
The third thing that tipped me off is how it ended right before the twist. The governor, in order to cover up the fact that he ordered the falsifying of his son's, and other's scores (because his son purposely failed), he switches up who is gets executed at the last minute, including 2 people who supposedly passed, both who had previously been jerks in the movie. Now this movie was unconventional enough at least for me to know that it wouldn't pull this "the jerks get their comeuppance" play, especially when one was African American.
Overall, the general lack of real stakes and a bit of confusion made me realize it didn't have the guts to see it through to it's morally challenging conclusion. Also it gave it an excuse for a sequel. All in all, if you have an hour to kill you can watch it, but don't expect Oscar worthy performances.
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