School’s Out Forever – Surprisingly bold, dark and engaging

4 mins read

School’s Out Forever is available to rent or buy now 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 books to be similar in style to Slaughterhouse Rulz, may find themselves shocked by the depth of horror on offer. Because while dry wit threads through the opening 40 minutes, School’s Out Forever is, in fact, an accomplished, smart and decidedly dark slice of fantasy horror. Its pandemic themes of isolation and lockdown coupled 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), his place as a scholarship student at St Mark’s School for Boys constantly under threat. And while some of this threat comes from his own behaviour alongside Mac (Liam Lau Fernandez), snobbery also surrounds his ability to find his place and purpose; the headmaster (Anthony Head) keen to expel him at any cost. Unfortunately for Lee, a corridor prank is all the ammunition the Headmaster needs; with the discovery of cannabis in his rucksack only adding to his woes as he is told to leave. However, as he walks out of the school gates; his dad picking him up. Lee’s attention turns to the radio where news of a new deadly flu haunts the airwaves. The UK government yet to close its borders to halt the spread. Sound familiar?

As the days turn into weeks, the virus slowly encircles Lee’s home; taking everyone around him. 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. The resulting film one part Lord of the Flies and one part Toy Soldiers as the school descends into violent chaos. And when this is coupled with an accomplished and engaging young cast, School’s Out Forever finds a unique voice amidst the blood and gore. Its surprisingly bold, dark and engaging story only intensified by our current lockdown. And I will certainly not be the only viewer hoping for more, as the final credits roll.


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