Monday, 1 April 2013

F (2010)

Not strictly an 'F', but definitely a 'could do better'.

F starts out as a very interesting and believable social drama. The splendid David Schofield stars as Mr Anderson a teacher who receives a headbutt and a broken nose from one wayward pupil simply because he gave him an 'F' for his piss poor essay on To Kill A Mockingbird. After a period of sick leave and an attempt from the boy and his family to sue the attacked teacher (?!) Anderson attends a meeting to return back to work where he is told by his head that an 'F' grade isn't the done thing these days apparently, 'RS' for resubmission is the done thing. I need to point out at this juncture that the head is played by Ruth Gemmell *sighs* I've had a thing for her ever since Fever Pitch, so it was interesting to see her back in the staff room once more. A shame her character is such a cold bitch really. But then, one of F's major problems is how it wastes its talented and/or familiar cast - with Juliet Aubrey, Tom Mannion and the impossibly gorgeous Hollyoaks and Game Of Thrones star Roxanne McKee also filling brief and empty roles.

So from here, Anderson is a shadow of his former self; frazzled, weary, living off his nerves and booze he has become the laughing stock embarrassment of the school, and also to his spoilt daughter (Eliza Bennett) who just happens to be a pupil there. Having kept her behind for detention one night, just to see her, the school is suddenly laid siege to by murderous and extremely acrobatic psychotic faceless hoodies, making all of Anderson's fears come true. Except of course, as everyone has written him off as a burnt out paranoid by now, no one believes him.

It's a frustrating missed opportunity really as I think F could have easily taken the all too real social problems have violence and rising delinquency in British schools and melded it with the tropes of slasher horror fiction far more successfully than it ultimately has. The descent into bloody horror is never explained or handled as effectively as the film's opening moments in the all too real world.

Depicting the unexplained attacking hoodies as agile athletes  - who have such an ability to swoop and fly around that, it has to be said, they really could have done with putting the blades down and concentrating on the 2012 Olympics! -  really doesn't help, presenting us with something that is more laughable than the sinister menace the film clearly hoped for. I get that they're clearly meant to be unexplained and that their prowess is somehow supernatural, but that just jars with the realism that has previously been set up. Horror is a precarious genre, any limitation it may have can scupper the whole thing and the way the threat is presented here I'm afraid rather lets the side down. The sterling efforts of Schofield, and the brief moments of others in the cast, to play the whole affair dead straight regardless is ultimately not enough.

The ending, when it comes after a short running time of just 75 minutes is a surprise and a shock, but it does feel like it's just there for effect, like any of the shocks the film has deployed by that point.

A 'D' accompanied by a 'see me' for director Johannes Roberts, with the advice that he should try the social realism genre next time around.

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