The Expelled (2010) ***
D: Johannes Roberts
C: David Schofield, Eliza Bennett, Ruth Gemmell, Finlay Robertson, Roxanne McKee, Juliet Aubrey, Max Fowler
Plot Synopsis: A school comes under attack, after hours, by a group of hooded killers who also wear masks to conceal their identity.
REVIEW: My initial impression of The Expelled (going off the artwork & tittle) was that it was going to be yet another slasher set in yet another high school. After all, the core premise is about a school that comes under attack by hooded killers. And in the hands of another director, it probably would have been. However there's more than meets the eye.
From the get go, we know something bad, something really bad is going to happen. One of the teachers is even handing out news letters to the faculty warning that students are exhibiting increasingly violent behavior. In between, there's some commentary about how people try to blame others for their own actions, instead of taking responsibility, about how we're pandering to kids for their under accomplishments, how teachers are powerless in the classroom to do anything and how we let kids run on top of adults.
Now when it comes to the business of horror, your stereotypical slasher would have given us a bunch of gory deaths, some T&A and a final girl. Not here. Once The Expelled arrives at the slasher portion of its story, director Johannes Roberts is wise enough to know not to rush the suspense leading up to the various slashings. After all, suspense is something that has to be developed. Director Roberts is also smart enough to know that the suspense leading up the slashings is always more satisfying then the actual slashings themselves.
The characters go about their business, some poke around. There's long, dark hallways and shadowy corridors. The film evokes that feeling of a long, troublesome day. The killers fad in & out of the background surprising the characters just when they least expect it. These hooded killers tease & taunt their victims to be. One of the intended victims has fallen on the floor. The killer walks fast enough to keep up with that person, but slow enough so that they're always on the tiptoes of the victim to be. In another scene, yet another character is dragging themselves down a hallway. We can clearly see that they're injured. Two other characters stumble upon this person and what they discover is something truly horrifying. I actually jumped. This is a film that doesn't resort to characters constantly being scared by their friends who have managed to pop out of nowhere.
The ending is what gives The Expelled distinction though. It's rare that a film can pull the rug right out from underneath its audience. I'm surprised that I didn't see it coming myself. I found the ending to be a breath of fresh air. I thought it was bold and took a chance. It had me re-examining things. I also appreciated how the ending was true to the story and organic. It wasn't a twist ending for the sake of a twist ending.
I've seen various message boards in which some are proclaiming how much they hated the ending and others saying that they loved it. At least the ending is getting horror fans to talk about something other then remakes or a lack of original ideas. That, in of itself, is an accomplishment. [R] 79 mins.
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