Written and Directed by Storm Ashwood
Starring Megan Drury, William Charles McDonald, Nicholas Hope, Texas Watterston, Milly Alcock and Jack Ruwald
“The perfect blend of otherworldly fantasy and creepy horror.”
by Matthew Eeles
Contemporary Australian cinema isn’t exactly known for delivering Earth-shatteringly original content. It’s been a while since the local industry made waves internationally outside the big film festivals.
It’s a shame that we’ve lowered our expectations to be surprised when going into an Australian film – something I partly attribute to disappointing and deflating box office results for local movies.
Due to the mechanics of our local industry, a very large majority of Australian films are made by first time directors not willing to take risks by thinking outside that frustrating box that is modern suburbia. Very few are willing to take us to other worlds, other times beyond this century, and very few are willing to offer viewers any real adventure.
The last film to do this was The Pretend One, a film this website praised for thinking outside the box. A woman was in love with her imaginary friend. It was far from perfect in terms of international filmmaking standards but it evoked emotion. It was captivating, heartbreaking, memorable, meaningful. It was entertaining.
The latest Australian film which genuinely considers and understands audiences yearning for entertainment is Storm Ashwood’s The School.
The School is the perfect blend of otherworldly fantasy and creepy horror which makes it one of the most unique Australian films we’ve seen in years.
The central character is Amy, played with a grim determination by Megan Drury. She’s a doctor who finds herself in an unfamiliar world, a purgatory of sorts, hunting for her missing son while fighting off a supernatural terror in a seemingly never ending labyrinth.
The supernatural terror known as The Hungries, half-dead kids out for blood, isn’t the only thing Amy has to fight off. She’s also being set back by a gang of youths who run this horror show.
The gang‘s leader is Zac, played impeccably by former Home and Away star Will McDonald whose Joker-like performance is going to make up one hell of a showreel.
Also turning in seriously impressive performances are Milly Alcock who plays Ling, Texas Watterston as Zane and Jack Ruwald as the innocent Timmy. You should take notice as this is our next batch of international stars.
For a first time-director, Ashwood never seems restricted by budget limitations. He’s created a magnificent, intentionally disorientating, convincingly creepy world out of a run down, 170 year old mental hospital. It’s inspiring stuff for any wannabe filmmaker.
The film’s violence can be a tough watch, especially for parents considering that violence is mostly inflicted on children. Structurally The School’s script can be frustrating at times, and Nicolas Hope’s character, Dr. Wang, is underdeveloped and underutilised.
Australian filmmakers have struggled to reach the horror heights of Wolf Creek since that film’s release but what The School offers that Wolf Creek couldn’t is escapism. There’s nothing real about this fantastical world, and that’s entertainment.
The School will be released nationally this November.