Getting Schooled (2017)

In 1983, a group of stereotypical teens are in detention on the weekend with a wheelchair-bound teacher.  Soon, they start getting picked-off one by one in varying levels of violence and blood.

The writing team of Chuck Norfolk, Steven Scott Norfolk, and Tim Norfolk have written a film that wants to be an 80s movie and gets some of the true 80s feelings and vibes, but they also use a lot of more current way for characters to act.  Directed by Chuck Norfolk, the film feels like what a full-grown filmmaker thinks the general public wants to see about the 80s.  It’s less John Hughes homage and more caricature of the 80s through a 2010s teen’s eyes.  The film has some things that work, but the attempt at rendering the 80s feels force and like something without much thought put into it.  The film uses a lot of clichés from other films without thinking if they fit in here, thinking if it looks like what we think the 80s were like, it will work.  However, the 80s represented here do not feel right; they don’t feel like the 80s of many other films, or even the 80s this reviewer remembers.  The characters in this setting feel mostly like caricatures with one feeling a bit less like so, but looking more like she would belong in this decade or the 2000s.

The cast here give performances that fit with the film, being that they are a bit self-indulgent and mostly build characters that this viewer just did not care about and watched to see them die.  The best performance of the bunch does go to Mayra Leal who gives the most realistic performance within the confines of the film.  Considering everything else, Tom Long plays his character of Mr. Roker, the wheelchair-bound teacher (or was it school vice-principal) tasked with watching them.  He loses his mind here in a way that pushes the film further into caricature but works as he fully commits to it and makes it fit, adding interest to the whole thing.

Further adding to the inspired-by-the-80s-but-not-quite-right feeling are the costumes by Elizabeth Redpath.  Those costumes, in most case but especially for characters Hillary, Shelly, and Mike, look like something someone would put together to go to an 80s party at their local club.  They are flashy, stereotyped to death, and just not that inspired.  The Hillary character looks lost between decades in clothes, make-up, and expressions (“As if?” is from Clueless folks, not the 80s). All of this being said, the effects are decent especially for the film’s low budget, kudos go to the special effects team composed of Kristi Boul, Gilbert Cortez, Kirk Mayberry, and Christopher Dale White.  They keep the effect practical, blood, and interesting.

Getting School is an 80s wannabe film that just does not hit the proper notes to really feel like an 80s film and ends up feeling like a caricature of the decade made by people who do not seem to remember the time period.  The cast being too young to even have seen the case in most case are trying hard to do their best, but are stuck in their costumes, make-up, and dialogue which weighs most of them down.  The film has a few cool kills and good effects, but is that really enough to save a feature?