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Stars: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Kaili Vernoff

Director: Cory Finley

Vaguely in the genre established by Diabolique/The Fiends and, later, Heavenly Creatures (but not as good as either), this is a slow look at persecution and psychosis and most of its subsequent violence is unseen, which curiously has the opposite effect of what the director seems to intend.

Central characters are two distinctly odd 'creatures': Amanda (Cooke from The Limehouse Golem and Ready Player One) is a 17-year-old awaiting trial for killing a horse. Diagnosed as 'anti-social with schizoid tendencies', Amanda arrives at the palatial home of fellow 17-year-old Lily (Taylor-Joy from TV's Atlantis) to give her extra tuition paid for by Lily's mother (Vernoff).

Lily herself hates her control-freak stepfather (Sparks) and is horrified to find he is sending her to a college for girls with behavioural issues.

It's Amanda who suggests they kill Stepdad, but the film's pacing from here on is too deliberate, with no sequences of events being strung together, and the minimal music score pretentiously clanking its way to nowhere.

Performances from the girls are predictably fine, but would be more chilling in a better, more involving movie, although Sparks is just a complete blank as the putative victim. It's also hard to work out which of the two girls is in control of things, and the ending lacks the kick we might have hoped for.

Made in 2016, just before the death of co-star Yelchin in a bizarre accident.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Colour (unspecified).
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 04 Apr 2018