Bad Kids Go to Hell (AKA Haunting of Crestview High) actually takes the biscuit when it comes to lazy horror comedy. Riffing on The Breakfast Club with some seriously misguided “postmodern elements”, the film is clearly trying to be a nihilistic update of the classic 80’s sit-com, but doesn’t stop for a second to ponder whether that’s a worthwhile concept.
Imagine it: a group of nasty, greedy, racist, stuck-up, assholes all bouncing around in front of you for an hour and a half, with not one brain cell or iota of decorum between. I mean ok the characters are supposed to be enjoyably foul, but when they’re using the N-word and then the only
black character happens to be carrying a gun, I can’t help but wonder who’s making this movie. Similarly, Ben Browder’s simpleton Janitor is in the end revealed not to be mentally challenged as first believed, but of Native American descent, and that’s a whole mess of narrative spaghetti on its own. For charisma or interest we have to turn to Jeffrey Schmidt’s Dr. Day or Jud Nelson’s (yes, we wondered too) turn as the often laughable headmaster.
The film’s sloppy effects don’t help either, barely animated bugs shiver across the school, and the camera frequently slides out of the library to show a stormy CG exterior best left in whatever late 90’s Capcom game they ripped it from. As with so many straight to DVD features like it, the envelope wasn’t pushed far enough in either direction. Crestview is too tame for all-out camp, too silly for horror, and too dumb for scathing commentary. Moments of ludicrous dialogue are followed by comic moments reminiscent of John Hughes, but they end up looking like a lesser gag from Even Stevens. Also, knowingly ranting about Breakfast Club is literally the least imaginative way to set yourself apart, it’s like if Bradley Whitford bitched about Scream in Cabin in the Woods.
The end is the most perplexing shambles of all, a kind of smorgasbord of endings that squeezes every last drop of twisty potential from its meaningless characters. People are killed in ludicrous ways and some people are killed in outright baffling ways that should surely prove physically impossible. Rarely does a film manage to combine only bad elements and result in something actually all bad. The characters are awful, the actors have literally nothing between them, as if they filmed the thing all over the place and had little idea what was happening themselves, and no amount of old classy Jud Nelson can fix a mess like this.
Dir: Mathew Spradlin
Stars: Ben Browder, Amanda Alch, Marc Donato, Veronica Harmon, Judd Nelson