Extracurricular: BRWC FrightFest Review
Derek (Keenan Tracey) and Ian Gordon (Spencer Macpherson) are brothers, they’re also straight A students who love hanging out with their friends, Jenny (Britanny Teo) and Miriam (Britanny Raymond). Together they have a great time and they’re favourite pastime? Planning and carrying out the murders of innocent people.
The local sheriff, Alan (Luke Goss) is blissfully unaware of the teenager’s extracurricular activities, but during an investigation that goes deeper than he initially realised, Alan decides to reopen some old cases that may lead him closer to the band of killers. With its original premise, Extracurricular puts its audience right in the mix of its protagonists who would usually be the villains. The film forces the audience to watch as the main characters happily discuss their previous murders and takes the audience along for the ride as the murders are committed.
There is never really any reasonable explanation given as to why the teenagers do what they do, so their motives are left to the audience to decide. Is it a commentary on disaffected youth? Is there a lack of direction and discipline for the teens? Or is this just another thing to tick off on their list of achievements? Who knows, it could even be those pesky video games. Director Ray Xue paints a picture in his film of high school movies gone by, the premise clearly being a distant cousin to Heathers, but with an uncomfortable twist that makes the viewer feel more like an accomplice than merely an observer.
The scenes of the brutal murders are well executed (pun not intended) and the discomfort makes the audience question why they are even watching such brutality, but not so much that they want to stop. The film is full of twists and turns as the killing spree continues and the group’s friendships are called into question. As things go wrong, the audience discovers who among the overachievers is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
However, there are issues with the film’s lack of characterisation. Apart from Miriam, none of the others are particularly sympathetic, only leaving the audience with the knowledge of the people they have killed and the terrible things they are going to do. There also doesn’t really feel like there’s a lot of chemistry between the leads and I believe that’s down to the script. If there was more to pad out their relationships and the audience got to know them better then perhaps, they would have understood their motives or even grew to like them despite the atrocities that occur.
Extracurricular stays gripping and has lots things to keep its audience interested. A bit of subtext certainly wouldn’t have hurt the film, as the audience doesn’t really get the opportunity to connect with its cast, but in the end, there are enough shocks to thrill horror fans. Maybe some of the audience will even question the nature of the slasher movies they enjoy so much.
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