Bad Kids of Crestview Academy
The Breakfast Club set the mold as far as kids-in-detention movies go. It sets the mold as far as how a great teen movie should go. You bring together five high school stereotypes – the jock, the brain, the princess, the rebel, and the outcast - lock them in a library together and force them to bond and find common ground. A group of teens learns that they’re more than just the labels they’ve ascribed to each other.
The easiest way to describe Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is that it’s a horror/slasher version of the Breakfast Club. A group of teens from different walks of life get sent to Saturday detention and some shit goes down. Only instead of some bickering and deep conversations, there’s… well… gory murder. This seems like a premise that could result in some good, bloody fun. Sadly this is not quite the case.
Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is a sequel to 2012’s Bad Kids Go To Hell, which is based on a graphic novel series. Full disclosure – I haven’t seen the previous film or read the book. I was still able to jump in and understand what was happening. However, it might be helpful to watch the first movie just for some context, since the film presumes you know what happened. There is a comic-book style montage at the beginning that briefly summarizes the history of Crestview Academy and some of the events from the previous film that set up this one so that’s kind of helpful.
When the film begins, a SWAT team is descending upon Crestview Academy. They come upon the charred remains of someone, presumably a teacher, and a man runs from the building completely on fire. The SWAT team eventually comes upon a young, blonde girl in a school uniform with a makeshift flamethrower. One of them urges her to turn herself in. She yells, “Go to hell!” before setting everything ablaze. Questions arise. What’s going on? And how did we get here?
We learn that the blonde girl is Siouxsie Hess (Sammi Hanratty), an “undercrust” student in a sea of rich upper crust teens. She’s got a fun Chloe Grace Moretz vibe, some combat boots, and heavy eyeliner. Her sister committed suicide at a school function by jumping off of a balcony, landing on the Headmaster ’s (Sean Astin) car. But maybe it wasn’t a suicide. Maybe she was actually…MURDERED? Siouxsie is on a mission to uncover what really happened to her sister. She purposefully gets herself sent to detention so she can sneak into school files and find out the truth. We’re introduced to our other detention attendees and their nicknames – there’s Brian Marquez (Matthew Frias) aka “Latin Spice”, Faith Jackson (Sophia Taylor Ali) aka “The Preacher’s Daughter”, Sara Hasegawa (Erika Daly) aka “The Cat Lover”, and Blaine Wilkes (Colby Arps) aka “Mr. Clean”. Each of these characters really only has one or two characteristics – Brian is gay and sells drugs, Faith is kind of prissy (also I enjoy that she’s a preacher’s daughter with the name Faith), Sara is queer and loves cat videos, and Blaine is the son of Senator Wilkes (Gina Gershon) so has a squeaky clean image, I guess?
Dr. Knight (Sufe Bradshaw), a guidance counselor, goes over the rules of detention with the kids and prepares to lock them up in the library for the day. The school has to go through some extra precautions because in the previous movie, detention involved a bunch of kids getting murdered, which doesn’t bode super well for this one. Unfortunately there’s something screwy with the new locks and passcode system. Dr. Knight goes off to figure out an alternate location and the kids are left under the watchful eye of the spooky janitor, Max (the director, Ben Browder, reprising his role from the first movie). Siouxsie has other ideas though and follows Dr. Knight so she can taze her, tie her up, and get her out of the way while so she can look into her sister’s death.
The bulk of the film is the detentionees arguing with one another while flashing back to the events at the party where Siouxsie’s sister, Alyson (Ashlyn McEvers), died, going through each person’s recollection of the night. There’s not much variation between each story - so like Rashomon, but lame. Meanwhile, mysterious things keep happening and the Bad Kids are picked off one by one in increasingly gruesome ways. Who’s killing these kids? Is it a curse? A ghost? A conspiracy cover-up? Do we care?
The main problem with Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is that it’s trying to mush up genres in a nice stew, but can’t get the ingredients quite right. The easiest way to label this movie is as a “horror comedy” but it’s nowhere near funny enough and nowhere near scary enough. There’s an interesting murder mystery element too, regarding who may have killed Alyson, but that element is basically thrown onto the pile along with everything else. The characters never rise above caricature with maybe the exception of Siouxsie, but she’s still mostly just a disgruntled goth with an agenda. For a movie like this to work, we need characters to care about…or at least ones that are fun to watch get picked off. They’re not even interesting enough to relish their grisly ends. And the only person in the whole movie who seems to be having a good time is Sean Astin as Headmaster Nash, and he’s sadly only in a couple of scenes. However, his mustache might be the MVP of this whole movie. It’s worth a watch just to hear him yell “Take his cock of your mouth!” Sigh. I never thought I’d hear such filth coming out of Samwise Gamgee. Sadly, while he can carry Frodo Baggins to Mount Doom, he can’t carry this movie.
Gina Gershon is also wasted since by the time her character rolls in and starts impacting the plot, it feels like we’re in an entirely different movie. Oh, and Drake Bell is in this? You might remember him from the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh that came out about a decade ago. I was wondering what those kids were up to. Anywho, he turns up ever so briefly as a hacker called the Naked Wizard. This is disappointing because he is neither a wizard nor naked.
To be fair, there are some simple pleasures to be found here in the form of a decent amount of CGI blood, comic book-y antics, and Sean Astin’s mustache. But you’re still probably better off doing a double feature of The Breakfast Club and Scream. With maybe a Lord of the Rings dessert. Because…don’t we all just want to close our eyes and remember Sean Astin’s better days? He seems a nice guy. He deserves better.