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  F No Getting Through To Them
Year: 2010
Director: Johannes Roberts
Stars: David Schofield, Eliza Bennett, Ruth Gemmell, Juliet Aubrey, Emma Cleasby, Finlay Robertson, Roxanne McKee, Tom Mannion, Max Fowler, Mike Burnside, Christopher Adamson, Jamie Kenna, Tina Barnes, Alexander Ellis, Ian Cullen
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Eleven months ago Mr Anderson (David Schofield) was a confident English teacher at this school, and encouraged to see his teenage daughter Kate (Eliza Bennett) doing so well in his class. That was until an assault on him by one of his pupils who was irate at being given a F grade for his essay, and the subsequent criticism Anderson gave him in front of the whole class. From that day on, the teacher was never the same, finding himself partly blamed for the attack by the school board, an injustice that drove him to drink, divorce, and estrangement from his daughter. But the worst was yet to come...

F was a fairly basic, unfussy but atmospheric horror from Johannes Roberts, who had been toiling in the realm of low budget shockers for his whole career until he finally gained recognition for this, his highest profile work to that point. Although not everyone was convinced, for an unpretentious suspense piece it all came across as not bad at all, helped by a more talented cast than you might have expected to see in this sort of thing, many of whom had that crucial recognition factor, if more for their faces than their names. If there was a downside, it was what began as a reactionary tone against teenagers, as if pandering to the prejudice that they were all either criminals or on their way to being criminals.

However, this tabloid-friendly point of view was not all there was to F, as it ran a little deeper than that, not thoughtful exactly, as it was chiefly a vehicle for excitement and scares, but if you chose to read more into it there was definitely less of a blind damning of a generation than appeared from the opening twenty minutes. Part of this was that as a hero, Anderson was not especially sympathetic, and Schofield was not going all out for that in his performance by any means; if anything his reading veered between pathetic and cold. This did leave you wondering who we were supposed to like in this, as many of the supporting characters were downright unloveable, but Roberts understood that it was better that the best ones among them earned our respect.

As far as that went, at any rate, as Kate ends up a surly troublemaker because of her father's breakdown, just another unfriendly face in a class, and school, it's implied, full of them. The head teacher (Ruth Gemmell) is little help, the epitome of "political correctness gone mad" for some viewers as she takes the pupils' side no matter how badly they've behaved, but once Kate is made to stay behind after school for detention by her dad, the horror elements become plain. That is down to all those in the building getting picked off one by one, slasher movie style, by a gang of what are best described as hoodies, gruesomely but not always explicitly which presumably kept down the effects budget.

So if you wished to see a bunch of people you'd know from off the telly - British telly, that was - being terrorised by a faceless group of killers, then F would be right up your street. Where it really scored was in its themes of the generation gap: obviously not every teenager was some anonymous would-be murderer, not even most of them are, but that lack of communication between the older and younger members of society was neatly portrayed here. Granted, it was mainly from the older lot's side as the feeling that nothing they said could get through, literally in this case as the phantom-like villians here don't say a word, and apparently have no desire other than the need for violence, but Kate did emerge after a while as someone to show that the film was not writing off her contemporaries like some bigoted old buffer. That this could play well to both crowds was a sign of its accomplished nature, and that ending was very brave. Music by Neil Stemp.

[Optimum's DVD has a making of, a trailer and an interview with Roxanne McKee as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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