‘Class of 2018’ review: School of schlock

Oggs Cruz
'Class of 2018' is overly ambitious to a fault

DANGER. Nash Aguas and Sharlene San Pedro star in 'Class of 2018.' All screenshots from YouTube/T-Rex Entertainment

Perhaps the clearest element of the very unclear film that is Charliebebs Gohetia’s Class of 2018 is its affinity to schlock.

This isn’t serious horror. It is horror that aspires for camp. This also isn’t the sincerest of camp. It is camp that is grounded on very clever ideas. This, however, isn’t really clever film.

It is a film whose clever ideas are drowned by confusion. What’s left really is the abundance of schlock, of those obviously dingy bids to shock, to be over the top and implausible all for the service of quick thrills and fast fun.

Kill for survival

Schlock isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When used by a director whose motives are clear and definite, it becomes an asset. Think of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (1987) or James Gunn’s Slither (2006).

An example closer to Class of 2018 would be Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale (2000), where students ludicrously murder each other for survival. Gohetia’s film is, of course, vastly different despite indulging in students being forced to kill each other for survival.

The plot is a lot more complex, involving viruses that turn its victims into zombie-like madmen whose obsessions are violently amplified. It thickens further, stretching its grasp and aspiring for some sort of political relevance through its unsubtle allusions about past regimes and their attempts to stay in power.

Class of 2018 is overly ambitious to a fault. It juggles too many things, the most obvious of which are characters. While it is admirable for Gohetia to take time to infuse some personality, no matter how clichéd or stereotypical, to his minor characters, the result is more like a collage of insignificant stories that only unnecessarily divert drama from the main characters. The film sometimes fails to escalate, more often than not thwarted by the constant shifting of focus between characters that only end up dying in the most unfashionable of ways. .  

FRIENDS. The group find themselves in danger after a hostage taking.

Champion life

The confusion doesn’t just stop at the characters or the plot or the politics.

Class of 2018 is bewildering in its convictions. There is a sense of the film wanting to champion life. Every time a character perishes, the film briefly shows a montage of the life snatched by the senseless death. Most of the montages are humorous, with one or two, managing to have an effect that is more than just comical. However, the film also glamorizes the senselessness deaths, reducing them to spectacles of gore and grime. It never really reaches that sweet spot where its diverting intentions jive.

Class of 2018 is more frustrating because the ambitions, if only managed, could have resulted in something more provocative than it is haphazard.

There is real promise here. The film is actually entertaining. There are funny bits here and there, with some moments of suspense to balance out the silliness. Some of the scenes manage to be compelling, raising moral quandaries on top of all the political implications. What the film really needs is to edit its ideas, to limit what it wants to do, its stylistic flourishes, and its garish attempts at camp. As it is, it all seems like a draft of something better than a film that is ready for release.

Fragments of what it could have been

Class of 2018 is hodgepodge. In its fervent desire to be everything at once, it ends up only showcasing fragments of what it could have been. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass.

Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.