VOD Release: The Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (2017) - Reviewed

The Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is actually a sequel of sorts to the 2012 film Bad Kids Go To Hell, and both are based on well-received graphic novels by Matthew Spradlin and Barry Wernick. It’s not necessary to go back and watch the original or read the source material to follow along with the film. After a quick opening credits prologue catches us up, we jump right into the story as sophomore Siouxsie (SammiHanratty) cons her way into detention, usually the exclusive playground of jet-set seniors (just go with it), to get revenge for her sister’s death four years prior. Soon it becomes apparent that everyone locked in is about to get more than they bargained for. 

This Bad Kids installment is directed by actor-director Ben Browder (who also appears in the film as janitor Max), from a screenplay by Wernick and James R. Hallam. Browder does an impressive job here, with bright and fun visual cues and surprisingly good production values for a small indie horror comedy. The acting may be a bit overexaggerated at times, as the characters can’t seem to overcome their own stereotypes, but the performers here are all pretty game. One of the film’s signature touches is playing up the “graphic novel” angle, with flashes to animated comic-like graphics to match the onscreen action. It’s not as clever as it would like to think it is, to where the viewer can easily tell when it’s used as a flourish and when it’s used to cover complex or expensive special effects they probably couldn’t otherwise afford. Even still it somehow manages not to be overdone. 

Unfortunately, the story itself is not as interesting as it could have been. The influence of The Breakfast Club is all over this film, to the point where one wonders if Bad Kids is some sort of parody or satire. The story also owes a lot to goofy 80’s slasher horror films, and does manage to take a few interesting twists and turns of its own. It’s a bit of a mystery that a lot of very good and promising elements came together to make a movie that is just kind of there, okay as a flyer on Netflix but not worth seeking out. 

We are so cool, yet sooo bad

The Bad Kids of Crestview Academy has a lot going for it, and could have been something unique and clever. Somehow, the film manages little more than a shrug out of its viewers. It’s interesting and kind of fun to watch but doesn’t go out of its way to be anything truly great. Bad Kids fails to be equal to the sum of its admittedly impressive parts, settling in to become a merely okay watch. The Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is a little better than your average lazy flyer, but really not much.

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-Mike Stec