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FrightFest 2019: Extracurricular

Director: Ray Xue

Writer: Matthew Abrams and Padgett Arango

Starring: Brittany Teo, Keenan Tracy, Brittany Raymond and Spencer Macpherson


Four seniors in high school, Miriam, Jenny, and brothers, Derek and Ian are your picture-perfect students. Top of their class and engaged in many extracurricular activities to make any parent proud and any university beg for them to join their school. Unlike most overachieving high schoolers though, one of these activities is elaborate murders of random victims, which the students use as a therapeutic method to deal with all the stressors in their lives. However, when their final murder doesn’t go as planned the group must deal with the consequences of their actions in the only way they know how… with more bloodshed. Initial Reactions C. This idea of fame-crazed or nihilistic teenagers creating elaborate murders has popped up a few times over the last couple years but all the ones prior to my knowledge have a large dose of satire. Extracurricular doesn’t, which works both for and against the movie’s plot. Though the four teens talk like adults, which I can forgive since I’ve seen multiple episodes of Dawson’s Creek, we (and they) are constantly reminded that they are kids and don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to understand the severity of their actions. Their teacher tries to suggest books as a counterpoint to Nietzsche, parents try to connect, other students invite them out for social activities. These kids are not social outcasts that can try and justify their crimes as a retaliation against an unforgiving society. They’re selfish psychopaths and they embrace it. The biggest strength of this movie lies in the serious portrayal of the victims. In a time where people vote who their favorite serial killer is and these awful individuals are idolized in a celebrity-like fashion, this story was fresh to me. We get to know the victims and they’re not one-dimensional characters made for disposal or people that “deserve to die.” They’re good, normal people that I found myself rooting for their survival. Even a random act of violence impacts someone. On the other hand, since we’re following the teenage killers (sounds like the name of a punk band), watching their plan go to hell, there are sequences that suggest we should feel bad for these psychopathic kids. To me the movie loses its power at that point. It feels like someone in the room made that awful comment that “we need our protagonists to be more likable” … no. Engaging? Yes. But this whole notion that you need a likable main character(s) is ridiculous. Downfall is a powerful movie but I’d NEVER say it’s because Adolph Hitler is likable. Because of that, the movie loses a lot of its social commentary on how we treat killers over their victims, whose names we barely remember. Technically it’s a sound movie with only a few slight continuity issues here and there. As the credits rolled, I found myself noticing a lot of plot holes and issues with the gang’s bulletproof “insurance plan” but I didn’t mind while I was watching it. I feel Extracurricular is a solid entry into the slasher genre but unfortunately loses its message along the way. J. Here’s the thing about having deplorable characters for your leads - you have to have something to like about them or they have to be interesting or sympathetic in some way.  These characters are 4 20-somethings playing smarmy teenagers who talk like they’re reading dialogue written for a film.  Why they weren’t in college instead of high school, I’ll never know but the point is, they aren’t likable at all.  Or interesting or sympathetic.  The sympathy angle is pushed repeatedly for one of them, Miriam but the bottom line is, she’s still a fucking murderer, killing innocent people.  Patrick Bateman is surrounded by absurd bit after absurd bit and dark humor.  This is all played totally straight.  Otis, Captain Spaulding and Baby Firefly are all interesting characters and obviously hilarious.  I just kept waiting for all these fuckers to die because that seemed like the only way I was gonna get any satisfaction from this story.  I can’t spoil anything but suffice it to say that way this all ends, the surviving character(s) don’t earn it at all.  You may feel different than I and some probably will but for me, even death for these 4 assholes wasn’t gonna be enough to satisfy me.  On a side note, while viewing this one, see how many totally fucking baffling decisions characters make.  It’s a fun game.  K.  The premise of four teenagers being the slasher villains as opposed to the prey seems like a promising fresh take on the genre.  Unfortunately, this really isn’t a horror film at all, except for the opening where we have a couple at a cabin in the woods who are slaughtered by the four leads.  Then it plays out as a drama about these four fairly shallow, brooding teenagers who plan to pull off one last murder on Halloween, before they all go off to college.  The old one last job before retirement, eh?  The four leads: Derek (Keenan Tracy), Jenny (Brittany Teo), Ian (Spencer Macpherson) and Miriam (Brittany Raymond), all turn in solid performances.  Only Raymond is given much to work with as her character wants out of the group before the last murder, but is pressured to go through with it.  The last murder is botched, of course, but not with any complications that work to further the narrative, instead it leads to an ill-conceived murder/cover-up which is inexplicably accepted, though the slightest bit of forensic investigation would reveal holes in it the size of the Grand Canyon.  This all culminates in a music-video-like final sequence that is supposed to provide some kind of catharsis, I guess.  For what?  I don’t know.  Frankly, this movie lacked any kind of hook for me.  There was no point of view and little done to involve the viewer.  I don’t know that this film was made for an audience.


Response C.Sadly I have to agree with Josh and Kyle. You want the main four to die, which is a fine way to approach a movie, however, the movie tries its best to make you empathize with the characters. That isn’t possible after all you’ve witnessed from them, especially with the fact that it is all taken seriously. I want to commend the filmmaker on trying to tackle the subject matter of violence in schools and the pressures placed on kids but that too is non-existent. What we end up with is a wasted opportunity. J. Yeah, this just didn’t work for me. I still can’t stop thinking about the way this all wraps up and not in a good way but in a way that pisses me off. I also found myself thinking about the fact that these assholes are gonna do this one last thing on Halloween because, “they have to” but they aren’t really self-aware enough to realize what that means in the course of horror film awareness. I dunno, I found myself finding minor comparisons to Scream but clearly we focalize with the killers and not the victims and here that flipping of the script doesn’t work because I just simply didn’t like the point of view of the asshole killers. I literally liked every character more. K. Thinking back on this film, I’ve almost come to dislike it even more. It had a very music video feel, lots of generic style, not a lot of substance. I don’t think there’s much more to add or dissect here. Bloodhound’s average score: 1 out of 5

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