Directed by Patrick Brice. Written by Henry Gayden (based on a YA novel of the same name by Stephanie Perkins). Starring Sydney Park, Theodore Pellerin, Dale Whibley, Jesse LaTourette, Asjha Cooper, Diego Josef, Burkeley Duffield, Sarah Dugdale and BJ Harrison.
Plot: Makani Young and her new friends must deal with a serial killer at their high school.
The opening of the movie is terrific. A football player, Jackson Pace, comes home to an empty house. He takes a nap and wakes up to hundreds of photos taped to his walls. Photos of him beating up a gay footballer, Caleb (Duffield). Then, a killer in black pops up wearing a mask of Jackson’s own face. He kills Jackson and then sends a video of Jackson beating Caleb to the whole school/town.
During the following day, a popular Katie (Dugdale), reads an essay in honor of Jackson that turns out to be both ridiculous and homophobic, while the rest of the student body starts ignoring poor Caleb. So, the main group of friends we’re meant to follow, Makani (Park), Alex (Cooper), Darby (LaTourette), Rodrigo (Josef) and Zach (Whibley), invite Caleb to sit with them at lunch. And after school, they all get high together in the parking lot of the school. To that we call time out for a minute to point out that these kids are not heroes. As the story unfolds further, you find out that they’re all keeping secrets – some very detrimental. They’re smoking pot while calling a cigarette smoker a cliche. Although they invite Caleb over, they still hate on him simply because he plays football. And worst of all, they call another student, Ollie (Pellerin), a sociopath because he’s so different from them when they’re all so in love with being “different” themselves. Makani turns out to be the worst of them all because she dated Ollie over the summer, is still in love with him, but won’t speak to him anymore or tell her friends about him because she knows they wouldn’t approve.
Later, the killings continue. Turns out Katie is a church-going racist and the killer doesn’t like that. So, she’s offed. All the kids in town are drug down to the police station to be questioned. This is where you finally get to hear Ollie’s side of things and he easily becomes our favorite character. And don’t you know, he also becomes the leading suspect. After leaving the station with him and hooking up with him, even Makani begins believing Ollie’s the killer. In case you were wondering, no, we did not care who lived or died in this movie, we just wanted to watch.
When I first started this review, I hadn’t planned on spoiling anything, but now that I’ve come this far, I have to. I think I need to express my opinions on the motive of the killer and the insolence of the so-called victims.
After a stupid party Zach throws ends with another person being killed, Makani is attacked in her own home by someone wearing her face as a mask. She fights back and then Alex shows up to properly rescue her. Thinking it was Ollie, she actually has him arrested. After a day or so, Ollie gets released and he winds up at the high school while Makani is also there and like, no one else is. She runs from him, screaming the whole way, slams into Caleb and begs for help. Then, the killer pops up behind Caleb and stabs him, so you know it’s not Caleb killing people. And Ollie runs in as the killer runs out, so AH-HA, it’s not him either. But me and DJ never thought it was him.
Makani then realizes the killer is headed for this elaborate corn maze because there’s a party going on there. Why, when people are dying all over? We don’t know, but there is. So, Ollie agrees to drive. Even after Alex and Darby show up, he still agrees to drive, knowing that they’d been harassing him forever and were a large reason why Makani believed he was the killer in the first place. They never even apologize to him, but whatever, bygones. At the corn maze, Alex and Darby start shooing people away, while Makani and Ollie go deeper inside to find the killer and stop him. And surprise!! Or not so surprise. Zach is the killer. I knew that already, but there it is. His motive was what DJ and I found interesting though and we don’t think a lot of other people really did.
I preface this by admitting that DJ and I were born poor. We were born biracial. We went to public schools. We had to get jobs as soon as we could because our single mother couldn’t do it all alone. In saying that, when Zach claims he’s killing people because he’s “too privileged” and that it was hard, our gut reaction is to kick him in the throat. However, we kind of see his point. When it comes time for him to be taken down, it’s Makani who does it, and she tells him that all his problems are his own fault and that he is NOT a victim at all. But why not? If the aim is to be insightful by insisting that Makani, Ollie, and all the others are victims of their environments, but that someone like Zach couldn’t be, is not woke. It’s sort of offensive and a lot dismissive. We weren’t impressed.
While only realistic in the worst of ways, the acting was very effective. And although there was no real Freddy Claws till the end – and that hardly counts – the inventive kills more than made up for that. All in all though, it wasn’t as smart as it tried to be and therefore didn’t get anything but a passable score from us. Watch it or don’t, but there’s probably something better you could do.
Our score: 47.