A group of teachers must defend themselves from a gang of murderous kids when their school comes under siege after hours.
This is a fairly brief feature length film and it wastes absolutely no time in launching straight into the story, which is something I admire. Although plot development is undeniably important, I can’t help but respect a movie which instantly grabs the viewer by the throat and punches them in the face (rather literally, in the case of F). F addresses some very contemporary issues in the UK at the moment, and it is for this reason that I must also mention another popular British horror film, Eden Lake, as I feel that they are exploring the same problem – the ‘middle class’ fear of youth culture. In F, the antagonists are faceless, swift and silent as they attack and kill everyone in their path, but why is this important? They are wearing hoodies, and everybody knows that the hoodie is the symbol of youth criminality, the symbol of young people who are up to no good (even though the vast majority of teenagers wear hoodies and do not at all participate in anti-social behaviour!).
The story told in F begins with a teacher, Robert Anderson (played by David Schofield) ridiculing a pupil for receiving an F on his latest paper, only for the pupil to get angry and whack him in the face. Robert is badly affected by this event and when he returns to work, he is the shell of the man he once was. He is scared of his own pupils and has to go to work intoxicated just to make it through the day, and it doesn’t help that he has separated from his wife (played by Juliet Aubrey) and daughter (Eliza Bennett). To add to his troubles, whilst staying late at school giving a detention, hooded thugs start attacking other people around the premises, one by one killing them off in a brutal fashion. Some die, some survive – but who will be the lucky ones?
There are a lot of close ups and jerky handheld camera movements which highlight the chaotic and frantic tone of the whole situation. Whilst some people might criticise this as being an amateur move, I think that in some instances it can really work well at creating the right atmosphere – just think of all of the ‘found footage’ films which seem to be all the rage at the moment! A green tinge is used throughout as some kind of ‘mood lighting’ I suppose, which at first I thought worked well, but I quickly tired of it. It is interesting to note that director Johannes Roberts also did a film called Forest of the Damned, which I had the misfortune to see, but I shan’t hold that against him (after all, that was five years ago)!
My problem with F is mainly because it just failed to ever really get beyond the superficial nature of the issue. There were a few good scares, sure, and I initially thought that the film had promise but then it never progressed, and began to drag a little too much for my liking. The violent ‘hoodies’ were portrayed in a way which (whether purposefully or not) made them seem supernatural and otherworldly in some way. This, for me, lost any of the realism that the film had and therefore the impact of it was severely negatively affected because of this. In that respect Eden Lake worked far better because it could quite easily have been a true story – and indeed, similar events have happened like the film depicted. In addition to that, because the hoodies are so ‘distant’ and ‘unknowable’, the audience cannot form any sort of bond with them, and whilst this might have worked effectively at being terrifying, F did not manage this. We don’t really know who these people (?) are, or their proper motivations (or why they can move like actual ninjas!). It’s a shame really.
Similarly, I did not find the main character all that likeable either. He’s an alcoholic, he’s a rubbish teacher, he’s a rubbish father and he slapped his teenage daughter round the face. And we’re supposed to be rooting for this guy? I suppose, because there was no build up of his character before ‘the accident’, the audience doesn’t really have any idea what he was really like, and therefore our only experience of him is as a broken, hopeless, paranoid man – not exactly someone we want to identify with!
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending (or lack of) in F. On one hand, I do like films which are bold enough to steer clear of the conventional ‘Hollywood’ ending, with everything wrapped up in a neat little bow. But on the other hand, it did appear a bit too abrupt and anti-climactic. I won’t give away exactly what happens here, but pretty much blink and you’ll miss it! I don’t really feel like anything was resolved and I was left feeling a tad unsatisfied at having waited (and also endured) for the entire duration of the film, only to discover that this was my reward – nothing. Absolutely sod all.
Any die-hard horror fans out there will be disappointed to learn that none of the deaths are on screen, although this does not mean that there is no gore – a couple of scenes feature some truly vile images! I actually find it curious that this even received an 18 certificate, because I’ve seen much more gruesome 15’s before. A horror film with no deaths? Whatever next?
Whilst I don’t think I would be harsh enough to give F an ‘F’, it probably only reaches ‘D’ standard (and even that’s being generous!). I find it extremely unlikely that this film was based on real events (which is what the official website claims), although this would have made it so much more effective. There are many flaws with this film, but it’s not totally unwatchable – perhaps if there’s ever a rainy day to kill, stick it on in the background.