Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (Movie Review)

Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (Movie Review)
5 10
Bad Kids of Crestview Academy Ben Browder

PLOT: Siouxie (Sammi Hanratty), a white trash student in the “undercrust” of the prestigious Crestview Academy, infiltrates the rich students’ Saturday detention in an attempt to discover the truth behind her sister’s alleged suicide at a senior party the week prior. As she interrogates the bad kids – sassy gay druggie Brian Marquez (Matthew Frias), son of local politician Senator Wilkes (Gina Gershon) Blaine (Colby Arps), kitten-obsessed Sara Hasegawa (Erika Daly), and naughty pastor’s daughter Faith Jackson (Sophia Taylor Ali) – they begin to die one by one under sinister circumstances. Is Siouxie bumping off the kids she holds responsible for her sister’s death? Or is something much darker at play in Crestview?

REVIEW: Do you remember the 2012 BREAKFAST CLUB-inspired slasher BAD KIDS GO TO HELL? I don’t blame you if you don’t, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know exactly how to approach tis sequel BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY. They’re not good movies. Absolutely not. But they’re so rigorously weird that you can’t help but be captivated by the ridiculous spectacle, if you have a steel stomach for B-movies. (For the record, you do NOT have to see BKGTH before watching CRESTVIEW ACADEMY, because the plot doesn’t make much sense either way).

CRESTVIEW ACADEMY won’t be pricking the ears of Oscar voters, for good reason. The dialogue is sub-Diablo Cody teenbabble. The effects are chintzy, pasted-in CGI. And despite the characters being scripted to represent pretty much every race in the known universe, they’re mostly played by the whitest kids you know. Plus, I’m pretty sure at the bare minimum, at least one of them was on tranquilizers the whole time. However, none of that stops it from being a rush of pure sugar, a breakneck exercise in bad taste.

The easily offended should drop this film immediately and head to the nearest hand sanitizer dispenser. CRESTVIEW ACADEMY puts you through a SAUSAGE PARTY-esque grinder of racial, sexual, and social taboo obliteration, pushing the envelope of cinematic impropriety to its breaking point. It’s like a long-lost sibling of a Troma film, and while I in no way support any of the viewpoints the characters express, they’re presented with such a gleefully silly tone and dedication to shock value that it only adds to the film’s no-holds-barred atmosphere.

CRESTVIEW ACADEMY isn’t all crudities though. The final 20 minutes pick you up in an utterly bonkers whirlwind of campy, hyperbolic action-horror mayhem. The movie goes places I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest Freddy Krueger fever dreams, and I respect it for that. And that’s not to say that the first hour doesn’t occasionally hit that mark. Whenever special guest stars Sean Astin and Gena Gershon are onscreen, clearly having a blast, the movie gets a shot in the arm of cotton candy fun. Their expert comic timing forgives a lot of the general ensemble’s acting flaws, as does lead actress Sammi Hanratty’s total commitment to the material.

You see, there is some genuine good to be found here. The flick’s frequent transitions into comic book-style illustration (the series was based on a graphic novel, though how faithfully I do not know) make for a fun, whimsical aesthetic, and the script builds some clever-enough jokes out of the constant repetition of the party scene as each senior describes their own perspective. It’s massively weird, but it’s a breezy, fast-paced film that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

While I had fun with BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY, I can’t quite bring myself to award it a wholly positive score. It works with what it has, but the low budget hobbles its effects and the plot is often borderline incoherent. There’s a halfhearted stab at an “upstairs-downstairs” theme of class inequality, but that totally slips its mind long before the credits roll. And it screws up the classic go-to false scare of “a hand grabs the character’s shoulder, but it turns out to be a friend,” something a reasonably spooky second grader could have accomplished. It’s just not a well-built film by any definition, even though it bristles with unbridled energy, leaving us with a twisted high school movie that would make Lloyd Kaufman proud.

Extra Tidbit: BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY will hit VOD and select theaters on January 13th.



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