“Its the British remake of the French Flick lls, but does it make the grade or end up with an F?”
I love Ils, that french horror introduced me to a world that left me uncomfortable, where you feel unsafe in your home and that the modern day teenager is one that you dare not confront. My love for it is so much that when I watched the much popular Eden Lake, I did not share the same feelings that many horror fans have lavished on that British flick. I am not saying that Eden Lake was a bad film, no chance it was a tight British horror that more than held its own, but IIs was one of the first films in the modern horror that introduced the bogyman as a child wearing a hoodie, a genre that has a sparked to life in recent years with Lake, Cherry Tree Lane and the more mainstream The Strangers which have all jumped on the bandwagon. Its is why F comes across as a horror that is coming though the tail end of a genre that is already heading towards cliche. F is not an awful horror, there are some ingenious moments that you can only marvel, but it just comes across as a seen it all before horror that you wished offered something new when you watch!
To be fair though I am sounding very critical of this movie when I really shouldn’t, because F is an horror that many unhorror fans may enjoy. My main gripe of the entire film is the 18 certificate because I am still shaking my head thinking who classified this movie. There is hardly no death on screen, even though the body count is high, and there is a serious lack of blood, so any gore-hounds out there hoping for a bloodbath had better rent out something else, because there is no doubt in my mind you be disappointed by what is on offer.
Again, I am sounding critical, but F’s main aim to soak the film full of tension and leave the rest up to the imagination, and it works wonderfully well at times, The direction is spot on, Johannes Roberts who also wrote the script, makes some good moves beyond the camera, there are lingering close ups which makes the background blurry but then look closer and you spot the horror coming, which brings a claustrophobic feel at times, and the decision to show no killings leaves you feeling unsettled, because as you know, what you imagine is more powerful than anything they can put on screen.
But while there is more good points to this film than bad, the problem with F is that the storyline is very weak. I mean there is nothing meaty about the plot which has been compared more to a teen version of Assault on Prescient 13, not the remake bur the original John Carpenter film. Instead of a prescient we have a comprehensive school where harassed teacher Robert Anderson ( a splendid David Schofield) is facing his ultimate nightmare. Only a few months before he gave the school thug a grade F for his essay and was assaulted for his effort, and being blamed for not showing sympathy for the young boy and maybe even being a bit harsh with his marking, Robert is a broken man. His daughter Kate (Eliza Bennett) has no respect for him and his marriage is in tatters. He is drinking in class and is obsessed that there are bad apples in the school and there is a serious lack of security. To spend time with his daughter he even puts her in detention which results in a slanging match and a slap across the face that has Kate in tears and Robert full of guilt. But those feelings will triple as Robert picks the wrong night to place his daughter in after school activity. A gang of faceless hoodies descend on the school where their only motive is murder. As killings develop, Robert must face his deepest fears, and not only save his life but that of his daughter.
That is it for plot and while its weak, there are some moments that you can only marvel at. Those who hate the gore will love the different slant this takes. Its all in the set up which is wonderfully done with the camera turning away from the kill. Many may grumble at that, but its brave of director Roberts not to jump on the Saw springboard. The hoodies are a wonderful creation which bears all the hallmarks of IIs and if you loved that french film, you will really like this. The hoodies sneaking behind the teachers all quiet will delight horror fans and the school setting at night is equally eerie and builds a great atmosphere with a wonderful score that sets up scenes beautifully. There is one “jaw dropping” moment that is the only time the film dips its toes into gore and while the film lacks much originality, we then get to the end!
This will shock viewers and will either hate or love it. Why? well is not downbeat like Eden Lake, but it is equally daring, simply because its all about a choice to make, and while it ends suddenly, unlike most films, you still be thinking about it long after the credits roll.
OVERALL: Its not quite the A grade I was expecting, F will frustrate but entertain all at once, the lack of plot derails the quality, but there are some great imagery and a brave ending that shows that F wants to be a different horror which is a welcome addition to the kids out of control genre…..