03rd Oct2023

‘End of Term’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Peter Davison, Nicola Posener, Julie Graham, David Bamber, Ronald Pickup, Ben Lamb, Ivan Kaye, Chelsea Edge | Written by John Paul Chapple | Directed by Mat Menony

Told in flashback, End of Term opens with a young student, Melissa (Chelsea Edge), being interviewed by DS Stacy Harcourt (Julie Graham) and DI Jim Burman (David Bamber) who are investigating the death of a teacher Damian Self (Ronald Pickup; Darkest Hour, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) at the Ford Barrington School of Art. Only this school has a history and that history is coming back to haunt this year’s graduating class. Literally.

You see some 50 years earlier artist Garth Stroman, had a disturbing vision for his art – a vision which hangs over the current crop of students, in particular Melissa’s sister who is infatuated with Stroman’s obsession with BDSM in his art. In fact, Stroman torments the school and in this case, the graduating class who are embarking on a journey of artistic exploration… one that, thanks to Stroman’s influence, grows increasingly extreme and their celebrations descend into a nightmarish world of medieval torture – all in the name of art.

End of Term is not the first horror film to explore the connection between art and death – in fact, the two have been intertwined in fiction for aeons, with films as recent as Painted in Blood exploring the connection between the tortured artist and their work – and how far an artist will go to gain success. Here the story is very similar, as young graduates try to live up to the high expectations of the Ford Barrington Art School, expectations that drive them to the aforementioned extremes, all in search of artistic perfection!

Though the perfection the students seek doesn’t apply to the school itself, which hides its own dirty little secrets – as one would expect in a genre film given that schools have often been the sources of evil in a number of horror films over the years – secrets that, ultimately, come out and are tied implicitly to what happens at Ford Barrington and to its graduating class; and its not just Garth Stroman that’s to blame… Lascivious school teachers, egotistical professors, angry wannabe artists – it’s a veritable melting pot of suspects in the murder of teacher Damian Self.

Unfortunately for End of Term, and much like the aforementioned Painted in Blood, there’s far too much focus on the “tortured artist” aspect of the story, delving far too deeply into the lives of the students rather than focusing on the horror of the situation. Unless, of course, you think student debauchery is horrific?! In that case, End of Term will be terrifying for you! I jest, but sadly the film suffers from just not being scary enough. It follows the typical Ten Little Indians slasher movie style plotting but there’s no tension and there’s no terror beyond the film’s ominous soundtrack – which does ALL the heavy-lifting in this film.

The fact that End of Term keeps cutting back and forth to the police station, where Melissa is being questioned, takes the audience out of the crux of the main story – the flashback – and also feels more like an excuse to take storytelling short cuts rather than be a real well-utilised plot device. It also doesn’t help that, thanks to the script labouring one particular plot point over and over, the film’s “killer” is the most obvious choice – well, outside of the ghost of Garth Stroman of course! So when the killer is finally revealed there’s no shock value, no surprise and thus the film ends on a damp squib…

** 2/5

End of Term is out now on digital platforms from Reel 2 Reel Films.


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