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F (AF)


Stars: David Schofield, Eliza Bennett, Finlay Robertson, Ruth Gemmell, Roxanne McKee, Emma Cleasby, Juliet Aubrey, Tom Mannion, Jamie Kenna, Chris Adamson

Director: Johannes Roberts

No, it’s not that ‘F’ word (bad luck, Channel 4).

Here ‘F’ stands for fear and fright and on that basis delivers enough of both to keep horrorflick buffs happy. Fear and fright arise from a nighttime invasion of a near-deserted comprehensive school murderous hoodies photographed, like the egregious ‘artist’ Banksy in the equally egregious documentary ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ so that their faces remain in shadow and are all the scarier for it.

Alcoholic divorced schoolteacher Schofield who is patently on the edge of a breakdown is the unlikely hero as the hoodies – who, like director Roberts – appear to have seen Assault on Precinct 13 and, possibly, Night of the Living Dead – terrorise the few people left in the school, beginning by chaining a security man inside a dumpster and then incinerating him. Potential victims are relatively few – among them an increasingly terrified security guard some of Scofield’s fellow teachers and, driving Schofield to desperate measures to save her, Bennett who suffers well both as Scofield’s alienated daughter and as the pupil whose detention is scarily interrupted by the hoodies.

Director Roberts does a commendable job with a patently low budget (the story ends suddenly; I had the impression the budget had run out at the same time, although I could be doing Roberts a disservice and he was merely ending on an obvious shock sequence). He and cinematographer Tim Siddell-Rodriguez are particularly effective in racking up suspense and shocks with underlit shots, often with deliberately unfocused backgrounds that potentiate the growing atmosphere of unease.

Schofield is good in his pivotal role, creating an all-too-credible character , Bennett is okay in her blonde-who-sneers-then-screams role while a supporting cast of largely unfamiliar faces help to make the compact small-scale shocker an above-average B film.

Alan Frank

UK 2010. UK Distributor: Optimum Releasing. Colour.
78 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 14 Sep 2010