FrightFest 2019: Extracurricular

School is over for the day, and you’re not sure what to do with your evening. Most teens in this scenario would play some sports, hang out with friends, maybe even watch a good old horror movie – but not the teens of Extracurricular. The quartet, made up of Derek (Keenan Tracey), Ian (Spencer Macpherson), Miriam (Brittany Raymond) and Jenny (Brittany Teo), would much rather take part in a slasher instead of watching one.

Unfortunately, Extracurricular peaks too soon, with the opening few minutes forming the most intriguing part of the film. It’s hard for director Ray Xue to keep the film moving upwards after it begins so well. The opening is strong and purposefully shot, particularly as it’s portrayed in the manner of a different type of horror film, so as to mislead our expectations. This is effective in creating a sense of excitement and mystery, but sadly suspenseful moments like this are rare across the rest of the film. Extracurricular’s lack of suspense is not the reason why the film is problematic – the primary issue is that, despite a very unique concept and perspective, it lacks quality in its execution.

Following a group of teens committing murders for nothing more than mere fun has the potential to be fascinating. What is their motive? How did they get here? Where are the boundaries? However, an exploration of the group’s intricacies is one of the many things the film sets out to do, but it fails – and even forgets – its commitments. The film misses every opportunity to delve into the relationships between the four kids, which, considering they are all so different, is particularly interesting. This could have helped in adding some much-needed levity to the bulk of the film. Extracurricular also struggles to commit to certain sub-plots, such as the relationship between Miriam and an outsider of the killing crew. This relationship, which began to show potential as a major conflict, never gets the treatment or time it deserves, and its significance is completely withdrawn in the final act.

There’s always potential for a sub-par script to be transferred to the screen with more conviction than it was written with, but that usually requires a good cast. Extracurricular is not an example of this. In general, the cast is not fully convincing in their performances, but to give credit where it’s due, there was little character development for these actors to work with.

With so much potential from the outset, it really is a shame that more positives cannot be taken from the young director’s effort. Extracurricular was a wasted opportunity, so often flirting with success. This being said, the film is incredibly easy to watch, particularly due to the great pacing and editing. Despite its issues, it’s not boring at any moment.


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