Horror Movie Review: The Lesson (2015)

Man, the British education system sure can be rough! Teenagers who couldn’t give a shit, lack of support & under-paid, overworked teachers who might kidnap & torture you in an effort to help you learn.

Wait? That last one…it wasn’t just my school was it!?

The Lesson is a ‘lesson’ in brutality. The moment when a teacher under pressure dealing with teenagers who have no dreams, no hopes & no interest finally snaps.

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Fin & Joel are teens in the British Midlands who like nothing better then to spend their days drinking cheap cider in the park, vandalising other people’s property & just generally being little shits. Joel is the ringleader of their little group & we get moments that suggest Fin isn’t such a bad fella. It seems as though he comes from an abusive family background living in a house with his bitter older brother. If that wasn’t hard enough Fin also harbours secret feelings towards his older brothers girlfriend, Mia.

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The first third of this movie is built heavily around character development as we see the boys going about their lives, the issues between Fin, his brother & Mia as well flashes of anger from their English teacher, Mr Gale.

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It’s really well done, so much so that when the boys are suddenly struck from behind by an unknown assailant it’s a real surprise.

Fin wakes up tied to a chair alongside Jake (who spends most of the rest of the movie unconscious/dead) to see Mr Gale standing over him. It seems as though the constant abuse & general misbehaving of the teens has forced him over the edge. He wants to teach Fin, wants him to learn but his methods are about to get a lot more extreme.

What follows are extended lessons regarding the futility of life & how famous authors interpreted that. Discussions about Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies & Paradise Lost all under the threat of having having your hand nailed to the table!

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Mr Gale is insane but a lot of what he says makes sense. There is a not so veiled poke at the educational system in the UK, the poverty that exists in large areas of the country & the often generalised view of teenagers. The thing is…Mr Gale’s methods get results, Fin, under immense pressure shows willingness to learn & a keen desperation to take in the knowledge being shared with him. Sure it’s partially because he has taken a heavy blow to the back of the head & is slipping in & out of consciousness plus he really doesn’t want to have his hands nailed to the table.

The acting is immense at times particularly between Mr Gale & Fins interaction. The joy in the teachers face as he realises he is getting through to the student is fantastic!

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Sadly where the movie falls down is with the character Mia. Her acting is so-so & the under-pinning feelings between her & Fin not very believable. She is thrust into a heroine like role forcing a hurried & disappointing ending. I had hoped that Mr Gale, in his madness would think his work done & just let Fin go. It would have made for a much more believable ending considering all his madness was driven by a need to teach these under-performing kids.

Several side-stories such as Mia’s relationship with Fin’s brother, her relationship with her mother & the hinted at abusive background of the pair all get lost in the shuffle. They seem pointless & don’t really garner as much sympathy as it should.

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The film chooses to tack on an additional few scenes at the end that makes the whole ending a little happier. It’s unnecessary & padding to a story that just didn’t need it.

The Lesson
  • 7/10
    The Final Score - 7/10
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