After the success of Eden Lake, Ills, The Strangers and Cherry Tree Lane, it would seem the “hoodie-horror” is well and truly alive and kicking. F. Continues the tradition, although puts an added spin to the genre in creating a film of two halves, one part heavy drama and the second part a full on horror bordering on the supernatural. This British flick wastes no time in getting right down to it and sets up the plot nicely as we meet respected and trusted teacher Mr Anderson (David Schofield). His daughter Kate (Eliza Bennet) also attends the same school and is actually in his class and the two seem close. Her protective look as pupils laugh and joke and call her a “teacher’s pet” says it all. Anderson marks a young thug’s work with an F, prompting the teacher to make a sly and un-called for joke about the lack of effort this pupil has put in. However, what the teacher says does not condone the actions of the pupil as he casually gets up, walks over to Anderson and punches him in the face. Faced with the threat of the thugs parents suing the school over what has happened, Anderson is called in to a meeting and rightly so feels cheated and used by the system. Hell, he is even told off for marking the thug’s work with an F!!! This opening plot grabs the attention, and it just looks like we might have something very good here indeed, an important horror with a strong moral message about the state of schools in “Broken Britain”.
This high drama continues, and becomes even more powerful as Anderson returns from a long period of absence. His marriage is destroyed, his daughter no longer looks with those protective eyes, he is a nervous wreck believing everyone is out to get him, and sadly he has turned to drink to get him through the day. Unshaven and messy, he nervously walks through the school with his head down. Unable to control his class for fear of retaliation he is clearly a broken man. With his daughter’s birthday coming up, his now separated wife announces that Kate wants to go to London to celebrate. Knowing the threats of hoodie’s all too well, Anderson won’t allow it, and selfishly puts his daughter in detention for a week so that she can’t go. You could argue he is being a bit over protective and dangerously selfish, but then he is just responding to an incident that has left him scarred for life inside. It’s a sad story, and one I can only imagine happens far too often these days. The head mistress seems to be looking for a reason to get rid of Anderson too, and so the poor guy seems to have no support anywhere.
There’s your plot, really, all the drama crammed into the first half hour or so. The film has a short running time, and so swiftly changes from powerful, relevant drama to full on horror. Hoodies have arrived at the school at night, whilst inside Anderson has his daughter in detention, the head mistress is working late, the dumb security guard is reading sports magazines, a librarian is still in her library and a young and incredibly sexy teacher is taking a shower after a work out! Plenty of choice then for the Hoodies to attack, and attack they do. There is never any reason given, and cleverly director Johannes Roberts chooses to hide their faces in darkness. Inside the hoods is just black, which actually makes the whole thing rather creepy. The Hoodies seem to have become ultra special stealth hunters as they move around, silently hunting their prey without anyone ever knowing they were there until it’s too late. It’s clever stuff as they appear, almost un-noticed by the viewer as a blur in the background, and then they scuttle around the floor, the roof and over objects. They actually come across a bit like spiders, creepy and just waiting for their next victim. The director uses a strange style of music to introduce each kill that has the sound of children singing, but in an offbeat sort of way. Sadly this doesn’t always work and I found it more irritating than unsettling but the set up is superb. Anderson’s paranoia hit an all-time high as a milkshake hits a corridor window from outside and when he turns back to look at it, the words “U R dead” is written. All his emotions, and the drink, cause him to argue with his daughter, eventually slapping her across the face.
Tensions run high in the school, and no one believes Anderson that bad people are hunting them. The security guard is a waste of space, and his cowardly act later on is pathetic, but it also made me think the film was about to head in a new direction and deliver an almighty twist that I was then trying to piece together in my head to decide if it actually worked. Sadly, that twist never came and I was proven wrong (the bastards!). We end on a simple stalk and slash film, with more emphasis on the stalk than the slash. Almost every death happens off screen, so the 18 certificate is NOT justified, but as with all good horrors it’s your imagination that truly scares you. We do see the aftermath of some deaths, and one or two are deeply unsettling, and you actually don’t want to think about how it happened. The film ends on a bit of a downer too, but the choice that one person has to make does seem a bit daft as there was actually an easy option, but hey, it does leave you with a bitter taste and allows the film to linger in the back of your mind. So basically, F. is a film of two halves; both halves are great and very well delivered. It does have its flaws, but they are minor. It’s also nice to see a film using an idea that is bordering on becoming old very quick and turning it on its head to make it fresh and relevant. A decent shocker and one which just my stay with you.