We’ve had Village Of The Damned, Children Of The Damned, Island Of The Damned and These Are The Damned. Now we can add School Of The Damned to the creepy kid contingent. Not an official sequel to Village and Children Of The Damned, is it at least a worthy cash-in? Or yet another disappointment from across the pond?
School Of The Damned begins with a beautifully shot scene of a woman being pursued through a dark school building. She ends up dead, tossed out of a window by some unseen force.
It doesn’t take her replacement Tony (James Groom, Dune Drifter, The Adventures of Maid Marion) long to notice something odd is going on. The students show a startling lack of differing opinions, ideas or actions. The one exception Geordie seems to have a bad habit of falling down and hurting himself according to Abott (Michael Geary, For We Are Many). Even though we and Tony know otherwise.
As other deaths follow, Tony becomes convinced that it has something to do with four students in a special class. But what it is and the connection between them, Abott and the mysterious Agent Stone (Craig Russell, Alien Party Crashers) will take some investigating to unravel.
Or at least it should take some investigating. School Of The Damned gives most of its secrets away much too soon. We know almost everything by the end of the first act, and Tony knows most of what the audience does. So there’s very little suspense, beyond why it’s happening. And that’s an easy guess for the viewer.
School Of The Damned still manages to hold the viewer’s interest somewhat. There are some neatly staged deaths including a replay of Village Of The Damned’s forced suicide by shotgun. But it’s all fairly perfunctory, where it could have been so much better.
There are also several very nicely shot sequences mixed in among the more straightforward ones. School Of The Damned was director Peter Vincent’s first film and he only had eight days to shoot it. That he managed to get anything other than generic direct-to-video camerawork done is a minor triumph.
But the script from Philip Dyas (Viking Siege, A Fistful Of Lead) has little feel for the genre and wastes these flashes of inspiration. Indeed he wastes most of the School Of The Damned’s potential by treating the film as a slasher. The plot is quickly dispensed with in order to focus on the killer kids. And that doesn’t work well enough o carry the film.
4Digital Media has released School Of The Damned on DVD and streaming platforms in North America. A British release is planned for next year.