Top critical review
Disturbing, cynical and manipulative.
February 24, 2019
I was surprised to see so many reviews with an "oh well, that's life...if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" attitude. This film is angry, violent and deceitful. When you're handed a storyline with a fairly familiar plotline, e.g. "mean kids" picking on the good kids, there's usually some kind of accountability and lessons learned. If the students were somewhat younger, maybe their actions could be chalked up to their inexperience and immaturity. But these kids are (mostly) star students, seniors at a prestigious private college prep school that demands only the highest standards academically, ethically and socially. But the school and faculty are either in denial or ignorant of the level of hypocrisy that is injected into those lofty tenets. The main group of characters are on a championship rugby team, which elevates their presence on campus to near-sainthood. They seem to get along wonderfully, until one misguided event turns them into a pack of jackels. Granted, they are understandably upset by an apparantly cheating girlfriend of one of them. What happens next is so frighteningly like today's news cycle of vitriol and hatred. Assumptions are made, lies are told, biases are ignored and innocent lives are destroyed. The cruel devices used by these kids are based purely on the automatic and twisted presumption of guilt and the need for revenge. About three quarters of the way through, I made a presumption too. I presumed that all of this ugliness would be exposed and justice would be done. I didn't expect a happy conclusion, but I did expect that malice and evil would not get a free pass. What bothers me most is that this film feels no responsibility to suggest that inappropriate, harmful actions--especially those perpetrated only on assumption--are no big deal. Collatoral damage is assigned to the victims, while the truly non-repentent, callous and deceptive get to yuk it up and enter the real world as sociopaths. Call me naive, or old fashioned, but the cavalier response to evil should never be a flat "get over it, this is real life!" That kind of blatant cynicism and apathy is what we see too much these days, and it detracts from our humanity and isolates us. I've seen literally thousands and thousands of movies in my lifetime that have been controversial, disturbing violent, etc., though the number of those with little or no redeeming value has been relatively low. This film is one more added to that list.