So, as any pop culture aficionado knows, this Monday was the 30th anniversary of the date of the detention in The Breakfast Club. Given the fact that that film is my favorite movie of all time, I am always more than willing to pay homage to it. With that thought in mind, I decided to pay tribute to this anniversary by selecting a horror movie that has the same concept as The Breakfast Club (only, of course with murder) and homages that film left and right for my third Hidden Gems segment. That film is: Bad Kids Go To Hell.
Bad Kids Go To Hell is a little horror film about a group of very different teenagers at a fancy prep academy who find themselves in detention together at a time when the school is secluded. Sounding familiar, yet?
The kids are prototypes of a number of different high school stereotypes such as the teen queen, the jock, the nerdy kid, the Goth rebel, a criminal, and one ordinary kid who doesn’t seem to fit any of the high school labels. The story takes off (if you can call it that) when the Goth rebel girl convinces the other kids that the library is haunted because of some kind of murder of an Native American, and so they have a séance so she can try to prove it; and this is where the horror takes over.
So, how does this movie compare to its non-horror ‘80s predecessor? Well, by the end of The Breakfast Club, we’re meant to sympathize with every character. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t at least see a little of themselves in every character in that film. But there is no coming to love the characters in this movie. You will hate all of them from beginning to end. Spoiled brats galore. While the members of the real Breakfast Club actually have real problems, these kids are just bratty and angry for no reason. In a way, almost all of them are a Claire Standish at the beginning of the movie.
The first girl dies due to not being able to breathe (asthma attack after being scared during the séance.) The kids try to go for help, thinking that there is definitely a spirit in the library with them, but their cell phones were collected by their detainee, and they are completely locked and trapped in the library (would a school even be allowed to lock kids in like that? And why would they be having detention over winter break?)
Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of a lunchroom incident about stealing food and trying to kill a bug and tackling a kid in a wheelchair, and you can tell that it’s supposed to be important to understanding the events, but it at best ends up seeming slightly insignificant and confusing.
Part of the plot is the characters trying to figure out what the criminal, Matt Clark’s secret is, and whether or not he is a bad person, but it doesn’t hesitate to let us know that all of these kids are bad people with secrets, as are their parents. Manipulation is a game to them. It does keep the movie at least interesting.
One character disappears, out of nowhere, quite inexplicably, and it takes the other characters a cringeworthy amount of time to notice it. So, yeah, that was strange.
The thing about this film, is that unlike its ‘80s counterpart, we actually get to see the characters in school. We get to see what they are like beyond this one Saturday. And the film does make it clear that this is vitally important, because it gives every hint that there is a story behind the story. The story does try to set this semi-mystery up. But there is very little payoff, and what payoff there is, is almost impossible to understand.
There’s not much else to say about this movie. It kind of just is what it is. There’s really not enough depth to it to form any major criticisms or praises. I will say that the ending to the film is one of those “Look how cool and great this movie is, and how wonderful the writing is, because we think we tricked you and threw in what we think is a clever little twist, but oh wait, it’s the exact same twist and reasoning you’ve seen in at least half of the horror movies you’ve ever seen before this one” type of things. That said, it was at least entertaining. The dialogue wasn’t boring or even cheesy.
Let’s face it; all of these kids are bad people. They all think that their use of foul language, racial slurs, and their supposedly-intimidating demeanors make them badass and cool. It actually serves no purpose other than to make you look forward to their deaths and rejoice when they do bite the dust. And the movie itself isn’t bad. But it definitely isn’t all that worth praising either.
I’d recommend seeing it, definitely, but only because it’s a fun little tribute to one of the greatest films ever made, and it’s a great way to pass a couple of hours if you’re the kind of person who can get past super annoying characters that all make you want to commit murder yourself, and a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere accept to confuse you as many times as possible, and then confuse you all over again just when you think the convoluted “plot developments” are over. So, have fun with it for what it’s worth and appreciate the little nods to a great classic.