The Haunting of Crestview High. Film Review

10979501-1405422012-404064THE HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH
DIRECTOR: Matthew Spradlin
SCREENPLAY: Matthew Spradlin & Barry Wernick
STARRING: Cameron Deane Stewart, Augie Duke, Ali Faulkner, Roger Edwards, Amanda Alch, Marc Donato
RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
Reviewed by Guy Adams

What a curious thing this movie is. Re-titled for the UK (it was known as BAD KIDS GO TO HELL in the US) it certainly isn’t the Gothic affair the new packaging suggests.

A group of kids are held in detention and, as the hours pass we discover their backstories just in time to see them bumped off. The tone veers from dry humour to grotesque slapstick to horror, with the latter never quite sticking. Some of the gags don’t earn their place. Nor does the classroom striptease where one of the cast jiggles her naked breasts for us due to ‘stress’ (I have no problem watching body parts jiggle but a little script justification makes all the difference, it’s a thin line of script between grinning spectator and self-conscious voyeur and the movie doesn’t bother to add it).

Some of the dialogue raises a wince rather than a smile, the characters are horrible enough to justify some of the bigoted awfulness they spout but it’s never quite clear whether we’re supposed to disapprove of some of the racist remarks or cop a guilty laugh at them. That lack of definition is sometimes a tad troubling.

While the viewer sometimes feels in sight of a good movie they’re never really given one. For every moment that hits the mark — the fact that the central character is always at the wrong place at the wrong time, sabotaging his entire school career is well done — there’s another that veers so wildly the goodwill is lost. If the funny bits had only been funnier, the horror more horrible, the characters more defined, the movie would have got away with it. As it is, we’re left with a curiosity that we’re never quite able to relax and enjoy.