F Review

Writer-director Roberts makes the most of a relatively simple premise, using sleek filmmaking and introspective performances to heighten the tension. But the plot itself feels oddly unfinished, so it leaves audiences feeling a bit lost.

Robert (Schofield) is a teacher who is still stunned after being attacked by a teen student. He also has a seriously strained relationship with his ex-wife (Aubrey) and teen daughter (Bennett), which isn't helped by the fact that he puts her in detention. Then one night after hours his worst fears are realised when a group of disgruntled students stealthily invade the school, killing people one by one on their way to Robert, who had the nerve to give them F's against the advice of his boss (Gemmell).

The film is impeccably shot and edited, with an unnerving musical score and some extremely clever set pieces that cut away from the actual violence. We are sometimes shown the aftermath of an attack, but nothing more. This slightly aloof directing style is hugely helped by the tight performances of the entire cast, all of whom hint at tasty subtext, which leads us to build expectations of where the plot is heading. But Roberts keeps surprising us.

Schofield is especially good as the tightly wound man who seems like he's about to explode. His scenes with Bennett sizzle with bitterness. We also really feel his frustration at the parent-pleasing policies of his boss, whom Gemmell plays with a superbly offhanded arrogance. And the most entertaining character is Robertson's dim-witted security guard. Everyone has some surprises up his or her sleeve as they reveal bits about their characters and draw us into the setting in some effectively terrifying scenes.

So it's rather frustrating that Roberts never quite brings things full circle.

It feels like there's a big scene missing somewhere, the bit that would make the film meaningful and pointed. All of the elements are in place for that, but the story's central point remains annoyingly out of reach. Even so, there is a certain subdued skill to the way Roberts distils the action down to the bare essentials in the chilling final moments. It's very smart, but not hugely satisfying.

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Budget: $1.3M

Production compaines: Gatlin Pictures


Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer: Paul Blacknell, Ernest Riera

Starring: as Robert Anderson, as Kate Anderson, as Sarah Balham, as Helen Anderson, as Lucy, Finlay Robertson as James