Friday, 14 January 2011

DVD Review: F

Starring: David Schofield, Eliza Bennett, Ruth Gemmell, Juliet Aubrey

Directed by: Johannes Roberts

Plot: The staff of a community college have their after hours disturbed by a group of distinctly threatening hooded figures.

In my most unobtainable vision of my idealistic horror film, there would contain a plot that would somewhat parallel 'F' in the way that it maintains a grounded, almost sub-standard story in regards to the audience being able to place themselves in the characters' shoes, and a setting which would most ideally transcend from the mind of Roberts himself. The deeply unnerving idea of having to stay behind at school after closing is chilling enough, but turn out the lights and add an ominous group of clearly unsettled, most probably angry at their parental figure, delinquents equipped with an array of sharp household objects and you have a decently constructed thriller. So, why was Johannes Roberts' 'F' so far from what i had so dearly hoped for?

British veteran actor Schofield is Robert Anderson, a doted father and husband whose life turns troublesome once an unfortunate incident with his student lands him an estranged, down-trodden man with alcoholic tendencies. With the Headmistress of his work place clearly against him, Anderson is a joke to most, including his daughter. It's an unarguable but disappointing fact that all signs of a leader point to Schofield, yet such a statement is preposterous when dealing with such a cack-handed and severely annoying, almost pitiful excuse, of a character. Instantly unlikeable, Roberts' fictional creation is a weak unfortunate depiction that is weighed down further by Schofield's unadventurous role taking. Grunting and groaning whilst resembling that bum on the street corner doesn't stand strong in my eyes, yet when paired with daugter Eliza Bennett (Inkheart), he's surprisingly the opposite. A caring and misjudged father, their relationship is one of the film's highlights. Through squabbling or, well, squabbling, their few scenes prove realistic enough to hold attentions.

With the supporting characters getting bumped off quicker than you can spot that hoodie in the dark, zero development is on offer, which, if dealt with a little more care, could have inspired remorse for those characters whose names i can barely recall. A possible love interest could have been on the board but immediately, 'F' feels incredibly, often carelessly, rushed.

There's little to actually judge when considering 'F'. Running at a mere 70 minutes, there's little room for decent writing, any spark of originality or any true threat. Don't get me wrong, the brief interactions with the hooded foes are often intense and full of dread, but with every scene they're featured in ends in a cutaway edit and slam, the creepiness that was successfully racked up in those few seconds is spoiled by a whimpering Schofield or a cutesy, but gorgeous, young Sarah Michelle Gellar look-a-like Bennett.

Promising, but ultimately, 'F' failed on most levels. Brilliantly atmospheric and a few unexpected, but cheap, jump-in-your-seat moments are sadly overlooked by the rest of Roberts' fault-ridden British horror. With an ending that appears particularly unfinished, don't expect, if you bother picking the film up, to remember it an hour down the line. Sad, but true.


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