- Written By: Matthew Spradlin, Barry Wernick
- Release Date: 2/1/2013
- Directed By: Matthew Spradlin
- Starring: Judd Nelson, Cameron Deane Stewart, Ben Browder, Amanda Alch, Augie Duke, Marc Donato, Roger Edwards, Ali Faulkner, Jeffrey Schmidt
BAD KIDS GO TO HELL is a modern BREAKFAST CLUB under the backdrop of dark comedy with twinges of horror, based upon a four issue mini series from Antarctic Press, created by Matthew Spradlin, Anthony Vargas and Chris Allen. The adaptation comes courtesy of the comic book creator himself, Matthew Spradlin, who wrote (alongside Barry Wernick) and directed the feature film. You’d think that kind of continuity would help the movie, but it doesn’t.
It certainly doesn’t help that BAD KIDS GO TO HELL has come out on the heels of the heartbreaking Sandy Hook Elementary disaster, but that can’t be used as an excuse either. The film opens with a SWAT team bursting into a school, a teenager with a bloody axe in hand, with dismembered high school kids littering the library floor in various states of bodily distress. It’s a fairly awkward, distasteful and uncomfortable opening sequence in light of recent events, but that wasn’t why the movie was a mess. That was the overwrought plotting and dialogue, the cliches, unfunny (and racist, inappropriate) jokes, and the lack of one character to actually, you know, like.
The school in question is Crestview Academy, a preppy high class school with all the rich kids under one roof. On this particular Saturday, six kids have detention (the opener was one of those pesky flash forwards). It’s already breaking from the BREAKFAST CLUB formula (oh, and Judd Nelson’s role as Headmaster Nash is so lame and minor it’s a shame), with an extra person, as Matt (Cameron Deane Stewart) crashes the party, literally. Matt is a high schooler with a parole officer, is poor, has no parents and is always in trouble. He’s the criminal, yet it’s clear (or is it?) that he’s just been the victim of wildly ridiculous circumstance and coincidence. That, despite being a criminal himself, he’s the only remotely normal and stable kid in detention (of course, it makes no sense why he’s there in the first place based on what we learn by the end). The rest are just off the charts awful, sadistic and manipulative. There’s Megan (Amanda Alch), who could be the brain or the basket case. There’s Veronica (Augie Duke), the basket case with shades of criminal. Tricia (Ali Faulkner) is the princess, but she’s anything but. Marc Donato’s Tarek Ahmed is another brain candidate (but he didn’t get into Harvard…wah wah) and Craig (Roger Edwards) is the clear jock. But, the point is, they’re all basket cases. This re-branding of high school stereotypes and shift from THE BREAKFAST CLUB is supposed to be clever, but it’s not. We’re supposed to be entertained by their banter, but there’s nothing under the dialogue to give us reasons to care about what they’re saying.
Soon the six are locked in this massive library (that only has intranet), with Dr. Day (or D-Day, played by Jeffrey Schmidt) playing a weirder psychoanalytical version of Paul Gleason role. Veronica has poisoned him with eye drops, giving them free rein, except that they’re trapped. Veronica makes sure everyone knows the place is haunted, because the library was built on Native American grounds, following the death of Jacob Rainwater (really?), who refused to sell his land. Veronica decides to hold a seance, and then, of course, the spirit of the dead Indian comes after these jerk kids (some had a role in the conspiracy to build the library on these consecrated lands), with disastrous and bloody results. Of course, it’s clear that these kids, put in the right situations, are more than up to the task of killing each other, and that’s exactly what they do. This movie pits horrible “kids” against each other, with nobody for us to root for. Maybe we like Matt because he’s the only one who refers to disabled people as disabled rather than retarded like everyone else, even the teachers and Headmaster, something wholly unnecessary and offensive. But that’s, obviously, a pretty thin reason. Spradlin hopes the audience will root for the deaths of these rich arrogant private school kids, and it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps because he’s trying too hard: there’s the building conspiracy and the nefarious Native American spirit, the pact between four of the students, and the “twist” at the end that basically ensures that we all wasted our time. Trying to utilize all just heightens the helter skelter nature of the film, rendering them all useless.
To watch BAD KIDS GO TO HELL on VOD, go here.