The Haunting of Crestview High aka Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012)
Directed by: Matthew Spradlin
Written by: Matthew Spradlin, Barry Wernick
Starring: Cameron Deane Stewart, Augie Duke, Ali Faulkner, Roger Edwards, Amanda Alch, Marc Donato, Ben Browder, Judd Nelson
Out now in UK from 101 Films
Running time: 92 minutes
For those among you who don’t already know, ‘The Haunting of Crestview High’ was first released two years ago under the title ‘Bad Kids Go To Hell’. It was only available in the US and the Philippines. Incidentally, the Asian title was ‘Swagger Academy’. Hilarious.
Now this delay, and the change in title, really confused me at first. If you made a film, why would you wait two years for an international release? If you change the title, aren’t you just hurting the publicity? After watching it, I can tell you why. If I made this film, I’d want it to get as little airtime as possible.
The plot focuses on a highschool weekend where six teenagers are being held in detention for a series of as-yet-unexplained misdemeanours. They are Gothy, Nerdy, Sporty, Princess, Preppy and the Bad Boy. Yep, it seems like Matthew Spradlin gave us a #ThrowbackThursday to the 1980’s, but with a horror twist.
We learn early on that the eponymous Crestview High previously belonged to a Native American who just wouldn’t sell- until he died under mysterious circumstances, allowing the school to buy it. ALARM BELLS.
Then, we’re spoon-fed the crew’s backstories and reasons for incarceration through a series of patronising music-video flashbacks. The Bad Boy (Cameron Deane Stewart) is, of course, blamed for all of these wrongdoings, with the rest of the breakfast club being implicated in his crimes. After Gothy and Princess successfully poison the school psychologist, the teens find themselves locked in the library together, completely free of all adult supervision. And because they’re teenagers in a haunted building, they hold a séance. Yep.
After an ambiguously ghostly response, cabin fever sets in as half the highschoolers think that the creepy noises are being made by a breeze and the other half is convinced that it’s a spirit trying to make contact.
Cue a series of spooky goings-on that wouldn’t make Scooby-Doo blush, with the exception of some fairly inventive final-destination death scenes. As the movie progresses, we’re gradually shown that the events leading up to detention may not be as simple as they seem and (guess what?)Bad Boy might not be to blame.
After the secondary cast members are all dead, we’re led to the first of not one, not two, but THREE twist endings. And one of them actually makes sense. Kinda. That is not to say this film has no good points; it is very well produced, very slick and it does have a few lines of witty dialogue, although these are hampered by some exceptionally sub-par acting.
Also, it has a few direct references to its 80’s predecessor sprinkled in, notably the ‘this is not the eighties feel-good movie of the year’ scene and the moment the Princess is humming ‘Don’t you (forget about me)’ under her breath. And did I mention that Judd Nelson has a role? That’s right, The Breakfast Club’s John Bender plays the principal in this horror-homage, although he’s carrying an extra forty years and a beard so thick that the rest of the brat pack could probably hide in it.
But overall, the film is exceptionally disjointed. Where we should have a smooth, seamless audience experience, we’re given a jerky series of scenes that don’t quite match up. After that, there’s the dialogue; it’s terrible. It tries so hard to be witty, to capture that effortless back-and-forth that seems exclusive to teenagers, but just ends up sounding like an hour and a half of poor-little-rich-girl problems. There are a few attempts to make it ‘more real’ by dropping in racial slurs, but all of these are so out of place that they promise to stick in your mind and irritate you days later.
Be warned, the opening minutes do show a lot of promise. It could snare you during its inevitable 3am run on The Horror Channel, but if you dare to watch this movie heed my words; it is highly polished, well produced dreck.
It has its moments (and I mean, literally, moments), but it spends way too much time failing to be cool and meta to actually work.
So the question is ‘What happens when you mix bad acting, poor direction and a weak, nonsensical plot?’
Sadly, the answer is Crestview High.
Oh and there is a sequel currently being filmed for a 2015 release !!