Released on August 31, 2018. Available on Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD!
BOARDING SCHOOL (2017)
Directed by Boaz Yakin
Written by Boaz Yakin
Starring Luke Prael, Samantha Mathis, David Aaron Baker, Michael Wikes, Barbara Kingsley, Robert John Burke, Owen Zamsky, Charlotte Ubben, Sterling Jerins, Matthew Miniero, Will Patton, Chris LaPanta, Tammy Blanchard, Nadia Alexander, Stephen Bogardus, Christopher Dylan White, Nicholas J. Oliveri, Kobi George, Kadin George, Allison Winn, Lucy Walters, Sonya Balsara, Karen Cole
Just barely missing the countdown for 2017-2018 is Boaz Yakin’s BOARDING SCHOOL, which unloads a boatload of childhood issues on you in its front half, but that’s not where the true horror comes in. What makes this film so good is the concept revolving around the cruelty of judgmental parenthood that I think will strike a chord with a lot of folks.
Young Jacob (Luke Prael) is having some behavioral issues at school. He’s fighting with his peers, having trouble with his grades, and sometimes he is caught trying on his grandmother’s clothes. So, what are two high society parents, only interested in having perfect kids and living a carefree lifestyle full of afternoon martinis and pills to do? Send them to boarding school, of course! And that’s what they do. But this is no regular boarding school. It’s a place where the rich hide away their misfits and the headmaster (Will Patton) and headmistress (Tammy Blanchard) have a particularly brutal method of treatment. Now trapped in a secluded mansion with other odd and sometimes dangerous children, Jacob finds himself in the middle of what looks to be a murder mystery as the kids and staff keep being killed off.
At times, BOARDING SCHOOL plays like a dark and twisted version of HARRY POTTER or THE UNCANNY X-MEN where those who are looked on as outcasts are sent away to a special school, but flashes a stark reality to it as they are to be retrained to be proper behaving children—even if it kills them. But this is no children’s story. It is dark, bloody, and filled with risqué and bold viewpoints of what is normal. The kills are especially gory and brutal. But what resonates even more is the cruelty of the parents who simply want to shuffle their kids who they see as an embarrassment or shameful part of their family and the feeling of abandonment and fear the kids feel when they realize this is not a school but a holding pen and maybe even a slaughterhouse. Yakin does a great job of dealing with this revelation and how it affects these kids.
Usually when I hear about a cast of children, I get a bad taste in my mouth. But the child actors in BOARDING SCHOOL are all spectacular. Luke Prael offers up a brave performance as a kid struggling with his identity. His Jacob is a smart and perceptive kid. He may also be a budding psychopath. Prael delves with this dichotomy with sincerity and makes us both question his nature as well as feel for his predicament all the way through. Young Sterling Jerins is amazing as well as a brash young girl with a dark, dark side. The other kid actors, especially Owen Zamsky whose physical deformity gains him a place at the school, are all excellent as well. These kids are just as good as Will Patton who is excellent as the mysterious headmaster and Samantha Mathis who feels like she is channeling her character from AMERICAN PSYCHO here later in life. These fantastic performances sell this premise and makes it all so enjoyably heartbreaking to watch.
BOARDING SCHOOL is utterly unique in every way. It’s got great performances, an unpredictable script, and offers up something downright twisted and fresh to the horror genre.