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F – Review
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F – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

After failing a pupil’s English essay, Robert Anderson (David Schofield) gets punched in the nose. Both he and the pupil end up spending a few months out of school.
This isn’t a good time for Robert. By the time he returns to school, he’s broken up with his wife Helen (Juliet Aubrey) and their daughter Kate (Eliza Bennett) wants nothing to do with him, which isn’t helped by the fact that she’s in his class – all of which has driven him to the bottle – and the head-teacher Sarah (Ruth Gemmell) is onto him.
When Kate misbehaves in a lesson, Robert gives her a detention, but she suspects this is just because it’s the only way he can get to see her, so she doesn’t play ball.
She taunts him a step too far and he slaps her – just as Sarah is walking past. His career is hanging by a thread.
Luckily for him (in the most darkly ironic way possible), on this dark winter’s night, four hoodies are roaming the dimly-lit corridors, gymnasium, classrooms, toilets and offices, stalking the few staff, pupils and security guards left in the building, brutally murdering each one they catch.
Suddenly, Robert’s life has new meaning as he does his best to save protect Kate from an unimaginable horror.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

F is an effective, but brainless real-world horror.
There’s no question that it delivers some effective shocks.
Showing us a slow build-up of the faceless evil ruthlessly stalking its prey, each time the hoodies skulk out of the shadows, we know what’s on the cards long before their victims do, which ratchets up the tension.
The director Johannes Roberts rather obviously describes F as a cross between The Breakfast Club (the detention) and Assault on Precinct 1 (the claustrophobia of the invasion), citing John Hughes and John Carpenter as among his main influences – the first rather tongue in cheek, the second more of a straight photocopy than simply an influence.
If all a horror needed to do to pass muster was to have a few good scares and plenty of blood spurting from faces crushed by fire extinguishers, this would probably deserve a B+.
But there are too many problems with the narrative for you to engage with the plight of the characters. It’s hard to feel that sorry for the alcoholic loser at the film’s heart, while his daughter, the head-teacher, her secretary and the security guard are all such loathsome characters, you feel they deserve to have their jaws wrenched from their skulls.
And perhaps this is a failure of anyone caught in such a clichéd movie nightmare, but the characters just don’t react the way anyone with any sense would – why don’t they just turn on the lights or climb out of the windows – and the set up too conveniently tips the suspicions and behaviour of any character with a brain away from reality. And how is it that these hoodies are apparently able to float silently atop filing cabinets, like ghosts? And where did they find hoodies that fit so well, not the slightest shimmer of light can make it under the rim?
Oh – and do you think that under such pressure, father and daughter might reconcile?
There was a much more interesting film here – a film about uncontrollable pupils playing the tortuous system to terrorise their teachers in the open.
But most criminally, like any worthwhile film, it sets up lots of questions (who are the hoodies, what do they want, why didn’t they attack when there were more people to witness their handiwork and so on), but like a pupil who’s prepared poorly for an exam, it fails to answer any of the questions.
It’s acceptable, in some circumstances, to leave some questions unanswered, but leaving this many questions unanswered in most exams would get you an F…if you were wondering what the title meant!

Opens nationwide 17th September 2010

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