Case Number 12599: Small Claims Court

STUDY HELL

MTI // 2007 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 14th, 2007

The Charge

School's out forever.

The Case

From the vault of low-budget horror dispatches at MTI world headquarters, comes this homegrown slasher thriller about a high school teacher who goes bonkers and starts murdering delinquent students.

Steve McDougall stars as a guy named Don Keller, a former captain in the Army now turned hapless high school instructor that no one respects. Apparently, Keller was a bad-ass on the battlefield who was subjected to a multitude of horrors during his combat tour. The emotional distress took its toll, however, generating a tinderbox of a guy, ready to go off the deep end at any moment and possibly take some lives with him.

And so it happens that the background checks and vetting process of the high school that hires him totally fails and he listlessly teaches classes despite his students not giving a crap and the administration threatening to fire him.

His last chance comes when he's put in charge of study hall full of misfits and assorted school stereotypes and ultimately does go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. From that point on it's a battle for survival as the unfortunate kids caught in the middle of Don's meltdown find themselves smoked one by one. I sure hope one of them makes it only to come face to face with the killer she thought was dead several years later in a runtime-padded scene that could be seen coming from seven light years away!

What's weird about Study Hell was how close it came to being clever and unique. All the study hall stuff and the banter between the kids appears to have been ripped straight from The Breakfast Club, and I started to hope that this straight-to-DVD excursion might actually do something sly, like parodying a teen cult classis and subverting its anti-authoritarian message.

Nah. Study Hell settles for a simply crafting a brief, clunky homage to the John Hughes detention epic and launching into a full-scale, run-of-the-mill slasher picture. Which, by the way, does little to thrill.

Start with the slasher himself, some dude named Don who flips out for no good reason and blasts out boilerplate psycho-babble in between disjointed, unsatisfactory slayings. The guy is just boring, never projecting dread and laying too much pressure on the Crazy Pedal. Yeah, we get it, war sucks, you're nuts and the principal is mean and you just want to punch some annoying high school students in the face. That last one may be a wet dream for some overmatched public education professionals, but as a driving force in a horror movie, it does little to enthrall.

Plus, the visual quality is pretty crappy. Half-heartedly outputting a fake widescreen presentation, Study Hell becomes literal hell to sit through when scenes get dark and the copious grain settles in. Well-lit shots fare better, but not much. The stereo sound does its job. No extras.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: MTI
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* Spanish

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* Official Site
http://www.mtivideo.com/mti/Study%20Hell.htm