Director: Boaz Yakin
Writer: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Luke Prael, Sterling Jerins and Will Patton
I thought some of images from it were definitely relative to things that we see today in society and the concept was kind of eerie. The official synopsis is a young boy becomes fascinated with the persona of his dead grandmother and is sent to an isolated boarding school for misfits run by a mysterious headmaster and his wife.
To start this off, we are following Jacob (Luke Prael). He lives with mother, Isabel (Samantha Mathis), and step-father Davis Rathbone (David Aaron Baker). Jacob has issues with nightmares to the point where he wants to sleep with the light on and covers the mirror in his room. He is haunted by a woman. He wakes up screaming, much to the anger of his mother who attacks him. The following morning, we learn that Jacob’s grandmother passed away. Isabel is upset, but it is odd. She states her mother was a horrible woman.
At the funeral Jacob learns more about his grandmother from her sister, Isipi Landau (Barbara Kingsley). She tells a scary tale that involved during the war, they were kept in an attic by a German SS soldier. They are Jewish and the soldier used to come to the room for a young Tsipi (Allison Winn). Jacob’s grandmother made a plan to be an end to it that was quite chilling.
After hearing this story, Jacob becomes obsessed with his grandmother. He does what he can to learn more about her. This leads him to putting on one of her dresses and dancing around the room. Davis comes home. With Isabel, they decide to send him to a boarding school. Now it should be noted, Davis assures Jacob they won’t tell his mother about what he saw.
This boarding school is quite interesting in that it creates that feeling of isolation. It is run by Dr. Sherman (Will Patton) along with his wife, Mrs. Sherman (Tammy Blanchard). They are supposed to be teaching the children their subjects, but they mostly are focusing on the bible. Christine (Sterling Jerins) defies Dr. Sherman and is beaten with a rod. Jacob and Christine met earlier in the film at a family dinner party. She is the first to notice something is up and trying to help open Jacob’s eyes. Dr. Sherman takes a liking to him when he sees that Jacob is a natural leader.
As I alluded to, this film deals some intriguing issues. Jacob dresses up like his grandmother, but I don’t feel he is really a transvestite. This gets explained by the end of the film and I loved the reveal that comes with it. This film also really focuses on the taboo and self-discovery, which many of this children seem to have issues with. Their parents don’t know how to handle it and decide this route. There is also a reveal of Dr. Sherman and what his plan is which takes the film on a dark turn. The climax takes it even further. Now I do think the film is paced pretty well, but there was a section in the middle that I got a little bit bored. It does pick up and find its way in the latter part of the second act, but it kind of meanders at the school a bit as it establishes everything there.
This brings me to the acting of the film, which I thought was really good across the board. Prael I thought was great. His character was interesting in that he is having a crisis about his sexuality. Jerins keeps badgering him about it and he keeps insisting that he is not a girl. This was a little bit sad to see since there are legit people dealing with this and I felt bad for him. I do like how this resolves in the end. Jerins is also great. She is such a monster in this film. She is a rich girl, who is spoiled. Seeing how she deals with people is disturbing and I thought it was perfect for the film. Patton was great per usual from him. I am a big fan even though he doesn’t do a whole lot. I have to give a shout-out to Nadia Alexander who is portraying Phil. Phil is such an intelligent character and I felt bad for what he was dealing with as a severe burn victim. The rest of the cast found out the film well for what they needed.
The effects of the film were good. There aren’t really a whole lot, but there is a scene with Phil and how he gets ready for bed. It is looking at stars and it goes pretty vivid. I really liked that. The wounds and the blood in the film looked good. They were done practically for the most part, which I’m a fan of. I do think that one scene involving a cut across the forehead was done with CGI for part of it. There wasn’t an issue there as it did look pretty real.
As for the score of the film, I thought it fit what they needed quite well. What does stick out to me is the record that Jacob plays when he gets caught dressed as a woman. I thought that song was good in that it does recur in the film a couple of different times. It harkens back to a dark event in the past as well as other characters humming it which I thought was a good touch.
Now with that said, I really ended up liking this film. I thought we had a good setting with a dark tale happening at it. I like how Jacob’s infatuation with the past and his grandmother has an important tie-in at the climax of the film. This film deals with some issues that are prevalent today which I thought was a good touch. The acting across the board was really good, especially from Prael, Jerins and Patton. The editing did have some issues in the middle of the film, but it picks up to an interesting climax. Effects and the score for the film were good as well. I think this is a good film and definitely worth a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10