While Student Body’s script is simplistic, the film’s direction and cast elevate what would otherwise have been a generic horror film.
Student Council is a love letter to the slasher genre, effectively recreating the tone of horror films of decades past for modern audiences. While Student Council is a note in terms of characters and story, the direction and performances do their best to elevate its basic plot.
Student Council centers on Jane (Montse Hernandez), a quiet, bright student at a prestigious prep school, who struggles to find time for friendships. However, her longtime best friend Merritt (Cheyenne Haynes) grows increasingly distant from her. Now, Merritt is the effective leader of a group of “cool kids” including spirit activist Ellis (Anthony Keyvan), aggressive soccer player Nadia (Harley Quinn Smith) and goofy Frenchman (Austin Zajur). Merritt pressures Jane to target their strict and ruthless teacher, Mr. Aunspach (Christian Camargo). But Jane’s party night with the group quickly takes a brutal turn when someone arrives on the scene with murderous intent.
Directed and written by Lee Ann Kurr, Student Council benefits from Kurr’s confident visuals. The film has style in spades, especially once the film reaches its danger. The film’s cast is in game, finding clever ways to infuse their core horror characters with a mix of classic horror energy while keeping them firmly grounded in the present. Ultimately, the characters are firmly locked into the genre conventions that define them. Student Council isn’t necessarily a new take on the genre so much as a modern incarnation. Kurr’s strong direction can only heighten a story in numbers — which is never necessarily surprising.
Student CouncilThe writing of takes bigger swings with Jane, Merritt and Mr. Aunspach. While Student Councilof the first act, the three performers infuse their character-driven sequences with unique touches that benefit the film. Although Herandez and Haynes’ chemistry could have been developed, their association is strong. Camargo’s role as the uncompromising but deceptively simple Aunspach works well. Camargo is full of weirdly compelling threats, even when he’s just teaching a class, making him a unique antagonist.
Student Council accomplishes most of what it tries to be – a straightforward, straight-forward teen-centric slasher flick. But there are flashes of more interesting cinematic impulses – the drama at the heart of Jane and Merritt’s broken friendship, the sleek camera movement and lighting finding clever ways to create jump scares – that suggest that this movie could have been so much more. Much like Aunspach’s concern with Jane wasting her potential in the film’s narrative, Student Council spends too much time paying lip service to the trappings of the genre to really stand out. But there’s still enough solid craftsmanship on display for horror fans to appreciate. With a bit of luck, Student Council paves the way for a more experimental horror experience from Kurr in the future.
Student Council premieres on digital and on-demand platforms on February 8.
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