Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bad Kids Go to Hell and Some Stay in Limbo: A Movie Review

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Director: Matthew Spradlin.

Writers: Matthew Spradlin and Barry Wernick.

Cast: Judd Nelson, Ben Browder, Amanda Alch, Marc Donato, Augie Duke, Roger Edwards, Ali Faulkner, Cameron Deane Stewart, Jeffrey Schmidt and Chanel Ryan.

Bad Kids Go to Hell has undergone a few transformations. Originally, this piece was a script and then a graphic novel. Over the course of six years, Bad Kids Go to Hell made its way into a cinematic form. And, Matthew Spradlin's first movie as director introduces a lot of conflict, a few comedic moments and perhaps, too much conniving. This title pays homage to a few classics, mostly The Breakfast Club and Carrie. Sadly, Bad Kids Go to Hell is only occasionally entertaining.

The film begins as an homage to 1985's The Breakfast Club. Six students are locked into the school's library to serve a Saturday detention. The jock, the nerd, the goth, the princess and the pauper each tell tales of power and influence. Meanwhile, a killer is in their midst. This villain is possibly the ghost of a bitter and conquered Native American Chief, or he/she is someone angry and bitter at one of the other classmates. In this film, everyone hates everyone else. So, as the blood flies, viewer's might rejoice, rather than turn away in horror.

Hopefully, viewers will also be able to spot the many homages in the film. Actor Judd Nelson appears in both this film and The Breakfast Club. In this show, Nelson plays a very serious headmaster, with some of the film's best lines: "never before have I seen a greater blight on organized education." The students are the butt of this joke. The library and character stereotypes also help root this title within the framework of The Breakfast Club. As well, the film Carrie is referenced. A school dance almost turns into a bloodbath when the Prom Queen is targeted for a red punch dunking. This scene is lifted right from Brian De Palma's 1976 film. Bad Kids Go to Hell also references Twilight, Less Than Zero and even "Scooby Doo." So, Spradlin has mixed in several movie and television references in this film. Some of those references are stronger than others.

One of the weaker elements in this picture is the comedy. This title blends genres, with pieces of horror and drama appearing. Yet, the comedy is sometimes out of place here. This reviewer laughed at a few parts, but the characters and snappy dialogue stifle some of the film's potential lighter moments. The conniving between characters also seems to decrease the possibility of hilarity. The jokes, such as they are, mostly involve slapstick moments. A still bleeding heart is one of the better sight gags. Later, a spinning statue creates one of the stranger kills. However, this title seems more based in horror compared to anything else. The comedy seems to only hover on the periphery.

Bad Kids Go to Hell released on video-on-demand December 7th and this title might impress a few. But, Bad Kids Go to Hell might depress others. This title is average overall, despite some well developed characters. All of the backstabbing, double-dealing and selfishness amongst the characters makes this title a slightly mediocre experience. Despite Spradlin's hard work, Bad Kids Go to Hell never reaches its full cinematic and comedic potential.

Overall: 6.25 (good use of flashbacks, well developed characters, no one to root for, too many sub-plots to follow).

The film's website is here w/trailer:

Bad Kids Go to Hell's Official Website

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