School’s Out Forever: Film Review

School's Out Forever

Another day, another movie featuring a pandemic! This time we have the gory British thriller School’s Out Forever, which focuses on a bunch of immune people trying to survive inside a private school.

Three weeks after Lee Keegan (Oscar Kennedy) is expelled from St Mark’s School for Boys, he finds himself heading back there after a pandemic breaks out and his dad dies. The contagious disease has no cure but people with O negative blood are immune, making them vulnerable to attacks from others. The school seems like the best and most secure place to survive such an apocalyptic event, but Lee wasn’t bargaining on the parish council forming a militia, led by Georgina Baker (Samantha Bond), and his best mate Mac (Liam Lau Fernandez) turning into a power-hungry and trigger-happy psycho. Georgina’s daughter Claire (Freya Parks) infiltrates the school and ends up with severe injuries and being held captive, sparking a war between the council and the school.

I had high hopes for School’s Out Forever in the beginning as it had a good dollop of humour and seemed to be going for a Shaun of the Dead vibe (the initial apocalyptic street scenes reminded me of it a lot) but then it started taking itself more seriously and got quite dark, violent, and twisted, with people getting killed left right and centre. It could have done with keeping more humour running through it to offset these darker scenes, like Slaughterhouse Rulez (another film this reminded me of).

This is quite a lightweight movie – all the characters, even Lee, are thinly written; you don’t really know an awful lot about them, and the story just descends into madness once the parish council start their war with the school. Then it becomes just non-stop violence, action, shooting, and gruesome bloody deaths. It was enjoyable and amusing enough to watch but I just didn’t care about anyone or the outcome of the story.

Bond was so well cast as one of the main antagonists of the piece – she has this frosty side that works perfectly for a villain, who stays perfectly well-mannered and polite on the surface even though she’s probably about to kill, although Fernandez gives her a run for her money in the bad guy department. Mac is one twisted person and I kept being shocked as he reached new levels of depravity. His nasty behaviour was well offset by Keegan as the compassionate likeable hero of the piece. I also enjoyed Alex Macqueen (Neil’s dad from The Inbetweeners) as Mr. Bates, who tries to lead the survival mission but is soon overruled, and Jasmine Blackborow as Matron, the school nurse, another compassionate soul who Lee has a crush on.

I liked the premise of School’s Out Forever as well as the cast and the fact that the pandemic isn’t dwelled upon – it’s basically just a backdrop to the events – but I wasn’t sold on its chaotic and gruesome third act.

Available for digital download on Monday 15th February and DVD and Blu-Ray on 12th April

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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