(No Spoilers)This movie, officially released on 9/5, is much better than I thought it would be.
I know that’s vague.
This is a film for the Twilight, Vampire Academy, Beautiful Creatures crowd. And it starts out similarly to many other YA novels and flicks with a Plain Jane (in this case the “Jane” is Beckett Warner played by the adorable Sophie Curtis), a family tragedy (fridged parents everywhere!) and a move. It’s even raining in the first scene -there was no way not to think of Forks!
As the movie progresses, Beckett remains reserved- logical for a teen who just experienced tragedy, but instead of being angsty and laying around in the grass; she makes friends with the snarky Jen (Sarah Sutherland, yes she is Kiefer’s daughter) and cute skater boy, Tobey (Graham Phillips). Beckett has friends! A girl who is a friend! She doesn’t just have haters that she’s better than! This is a bizarre thing to be excited about but it is actually very rare!
But things get strange for Beckett right off the bat. The school’s lavishly dressed staff and alumni all seem to rally around Beckett, either to help with her issues after her mother’s death or to hit on her father. Then she catches resident mean girl, Sunday, cutting herself and then Beckett almost gets squished during Sunday’s apparent suicide. After that, Beckett starts having nightmares and seeing ghosts. Her visions alert her to previous student deaths leading her to believe that there is more going on behind closed doors than “alumni book club”. Beckett becomes conflicted and doesn’t know who to trust. Meanwhile, the school nurse (Kelly Reilly, “Black Box”, Sherlock Holmes films) is lounging sexily around her apartment and adults everywhere are trying to keep her away from her new crush.
This film is not without plotholes. You have to suspend disbelief to make it fit, but it’s good. Beckett isn’t socially awkward to the point of nonsense like Bella, she allows herself to be young and lash out unlike Katniss, her friends don’t just jump in and believe the crazy stuff she tells them like Clary’s friends. It’s like she’s a real teenager. She pursues Tobey. She even breaks into his house. Which I still don’t recommend, but it’s still less creepy than Edward watching Bella sleep. There’s no love triangle. The girls’ uniforms aren’t sexed up like the girls from Vampire Academy:
or the Coven Clique from The Craft
Beckett and Jen look and act like regular teenage girls without being reduced to boy crazy day dreamers or willed into impossibly cool and bad ass crime fighters. They share headphones, they make mistakes, their parents are clueless obstacles that have no idea what they are going through, they pierce each other. It actually had a little in common with Thirteen that way. And there is no “slut shaming“! There is a genuine teenage feel to this. And if you are into that sort of thing, you’ll dig it.
The film sets up for a while that Beckett’s problems might be in her head, it’s not till fairly late in the film that the sinister secrets are revealed. There’s a few clues here and there. It’s also a good metaphor about adults, envious of youth, setting unrealistic expectations but then coveting their potential. It’s good.
It made me interested in the novel as well, I would love to get more into Beckett’s headspace. At just an hour and a half the film is really quick and there’s not as much time for suspicious suicide pacts and exposition. The audience also doesn’t get to know why (if any reason) Beckett gets an elaborate grooming while others had not. I would be interested to see if Jane Mendelsohn dove further into those aspects when writing the original novel. It’s not a series, which is too bad, really.
3.75 plaid skirts!