School’s Out Forever is available to rent or buy on all major streaming platforms.
“I Celebrated My fifteenth birthday by burying my headmaster and emptying my bladder on freshly turned earth. Best present a boy could have.” – Scott K Andrews (The Afterblight Chronicles)
Anyone expecting Oliver Milburn’s adaptation of Scott K Andrews’s books to be similar in style to Slaughterhouse Rulz may find themselves shocked by the depth of horror on offer in School’s Out Forever. After all, while dry wit threads through the opening 40 minutes, School’s Out Forever is an accomplished, intelligent and decidedly dark slice of fantasy horror. Here it couples pandemic themes of isolation and lockdown with broader discussions on power, place, and position in a film that bravely and boldly transcends the boundaries of the young adult genre.
The story is told through the eyes of 15-year-old Lee (Oscar Kennedy), whose place as a scholarship student at St Mark’s School for Boys is constantly under threat. Some of this threat comes from his behaviour alongside Mac (Liam Lau Fernandez). Still, snobbery also surrounds his ability to find his place and purpose, with the headmaster (Anthony Head) keen to expel him as soon as possible. Unfortunately for Lee, a corridor prank is all the ammunition the Headmaster needs. The discovery of cannabis in his rucksack only adds to his woes as he is told to leave the grounds. However, as he walks out of the school gates, Lee’s attention turns to the radio, where news of a deadly new flu haunts the airwaves. However, the UK government has yet to close its borders to halt the spread. Sound familiar?
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As the days turn into weeks, the virus slowly encircles Lee’s home with his only hope for safety a journey back to St Mark’s, where a small group of survivors (including Mac) sit in seclusion. However, as Lee is welcomed back, a new danger lurks in the shadows; the local Parish Council. And let’s face it, if you have recently watched the viral video of Handforth Parish Council, you will know just how cutthroat Parish councillors can be.
Milburn surrounds the bloody action with a screenplay deeply embedded in personal and tribal power themes. The resulting film is one part Lord of the Flies and one part Toy Soldiers as the school descends into pandemic related chaos. But when this is coupled with an accomplished and engaging young cast, School’s Out Forever finds a unique voice amidst the blood and gore. Here its surprisingly bold, dark and engaging story is only intensified by our current lockdown, and I am certainly not the only viewer hoping for more as the final credits roll.
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