25th Dec2014

‘Haunting of Crestview High’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Cameron Deane Stewart, Judd Nelson, Ben Browder, Amanda Alch, Marc Donato, Augie Duke, Roger Edwards, Ali Faulkner, Jeffrey Schmidt | Written by Matthew Spradlin, Barry Wernick | Directed by Matthew Spradlin

bad-kids-go-to-hell-cast

Originally conceived some eight years ago by Matthew Spradlin, Bad Kids Go To Hell (the movie’s original title) originally debuted as a four issue comic mini-series from Antarctic Press in 2009. Fast forward to 2014 and the film, now re-titled Haunting of Crestview High silently hits the UK market courtesy of 101 Films, without all the hype that surrounded the 2012 US release – which may not actually be a bad thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film but I don’t think it ever lives up to the hype that surrounded its original US release – which is maybe why the films UK debut took a couple of years – but as a fan of the John Hughes canon of films it was fun to see the stereotypes he so richly explored subverted in such a hilarious, and gory, fashion. Even though the mix of horror and laughs doesn’t always hit all the right notes…

The film sees six prep school kids from Crestview Academy, home to the spoiled offspring of society’s elite, stuck in detention on a frightfully dark and stormy Saturday afternoon. During their 8 hour incarceration, each of the six kids fall victim to a horrible “accident” until only one of them remains… Is one of the kids secretly evening out the school’s social playing field? Or have the ghosts of prestigious Crestview Academy finally come to punish the school’s worst (and seemingly untouchable) brats? One thing is for sure, their parents money can’t save them now!

A horrific take on 80s classic The Breakfast Club, Haunting of Crestview High is a blacker-than-black comedy which plays with the tropes of high school cliches (and the concept of 80s teen movies) to great effect. OK, so maybe some of the characters are arrogant pricks who deserve everything they get. But then aren’t there always people like that – even in your everyday life and not just in the movies?! There are of course a couple of standout characters and performances in the film – Cameron Deane Stewart as the films token “not rich, could be a bad guy, but turns out he’s the good guy” (aka the Judd Nelson of the movie) essentially holds the film together as the only likeable member of the cast; whilst Judd Nelson himself tarnishes his rebel with a cause “ideals” from The Breakfast Club by playing a stuck-up headmaster. Although not even Nelson can shake off the creepy vibe he’s had to all his performances since growing the weird beard and ‘tache combo!

Walking a fine line between traditional horror comedy and parody of the genre, Haunting of Crestview High/Bad Kids Go To Hell is not without it’s problems – the constant flashbacks muddy the waters of the story somewhat and you really have to pay close attention to a lot of small details to unravel the connections between the cast of troubled teens, although props for having a flashback featuring a schoolgirl in a plaid skirt stripping off in class (pervs will want to make note of the chapter number for that one); and the, for the most part, unlikeable cast make it hard to feel anything other than joy when someone dies – empathy is usually the best weapon when it comes to “slasher” movies, which is not an emotion this cast generate…

Yet any disappointment (or sheer hatred) for the characters and/or story are negated by the fantastic double-twist (or is it triple?) ending which saves this movie from utter mediocrity and actually has me interested in the forthcoming sequel, Bad Kids Go 2 Hell.

Haunting of Crestview High/Bad Kids Go To Hell is out now on DVD and VOD from 101 Films.

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