Boarding School (2018)

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A teen gets more than what he bargains for in this thriller from the director of Remember the Titans.

Jacob Felsen is a 12-year old who has a fascination with the memory of his late grandmother. He goes as far as spending nights listening to his grandmother’s favorite song while dressing up in her old outfits. The experience causes both his mother and stepfather a sense of grief. Realizing what can happen, Jacob is sent to a boarding school in the middle of a remote area run by Dr. Sherman and his wife.

At the boarding school, Jacob learns there are a limited number of classmates and they are quite an eclectic bunch. They include burn victim Phil, school bully Frederic, brothers Lenny and Calvin, and the mysterious Christine, who is convinced that the school is not at all it seems to be. When things begin to unravel within the confines of the school, Jacob learns something sinister and he must rely on his wits and inner strength to put an end to the horrific ongoings at this school.

Boaz Yakin is truly what can be considered a versatile filmmaker with his works as a screenwriter, producer, and director. Having written the first adaptation of Marvel character The Punisher, this led to Yakin going on to a successful career ranging from the urban drama Fresh to the biopic Remember the Titans. For his latest film, he wrote the screenplay and directed this tale of an isolated boarding school and the seven students who endure the punishments of their teachers, who are more sinister than it seems to be believed.

Young actor Luke Prael is great to watch as the embittered Jacob, who finds himself fascinated with the memory of his grandmother that things slowly begin to bring Psycho to mind. However, not in the exact vein, but more of the aspect of going as far as cross-dressing and listening to her favorite song. Naturally, for a youngster to go through this could prove to be both exhilarating and yet at the same time, concerning. However, it is when Jacob goes to the school that we see him and his attempts to find out the strange things that occur under the tutelage of headmaster Sherman, wonderfully played by Will Patton, who reunites with Yakin after Remember the Titans.

The supporting cast alongside Prael and Patton play quite an interesting bunch. Veteran Samantha Mathis makes more of an extended cameo as Jacob’s very concerned mother. However, the true breakouts are the fellow students. Sterling Jerins plays the very enigmatic Christine, who tends to have a tendency to play mind games with our protagonist, making the viewer unsure which side she is really on. It was ingenious casting when it comes to the character of Phil, a burn victim, as it is played by female actor Nadia Alexander, who does an impressive job in the role. However, the film’s driving forces are truly Prael and Patton, the latter who gives a very sinister performance especially with the big reveal in the climax. It is quite a jaw-dropping moment.

Boarding School is quite a thriller that delves in taboos and amplifies the intensity as the film goes on with great performances by the cast.

WFG RATING: A-

Momentum Pictures presents a Maven Pictures and Gigantic Pictures production in association with Farcaster Films, Old Greenwich Capital Partners, and Storyland Pictures. Director: Boaz Yakin. Producers: Scott Floyd Lochmus, Jonathan Gray, Jason Orans, Trudie Styler, and Celine Rattray. Writer: Boaz Yakin. Cinematography: Mike Simpson. Editing: Martin Brinkler.

Cast: Luke Prael, Sterling Jerins, Will Patton, Nadia Alexander, Lucy Walters, Tammy Blanchard, Nicholas J. Oliveri, Robert John Burke, Christopher Dylan White, Matthew Miniero, Kobi George, Kadin George, Samantha Mathis.

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