End of Term - New Release Review
Director: Mat Menony
Starring: Chelsea Edge, Julie Graham, David Bamber, Peter Davison, Nicola Posener
Written by: John Paul Chapple
Produced by: John Paul Chapple, Alan Latham, Geoff Ilses
Cinematography by: Gerry Lively
Original Score by: Crocodile Music
A group of art students are tormented by the lingering menace of Garth Stroman, an infamous artist who had a disturbing vision fifty years prior.
Modern slashers always have a tough time getting over with audiences, particularly if they don't follow the very strict set of rules that so many classics before them have already set in stone and definitely if there isn't an intriguing and, let's face it, cool AF killer. 'End of Term' falls into that category. It isn't really a "who-dun-it" slasher but more of a "what happened" slasher.
Most of the film takes place in an interview room at the local police station where Melissa (Chelsea Edge) is being questioned by DS Harcourt (Julie Graham) and DI Burman (David Bamber) after being found strapped to a chair in the basement of the Ford Barrington Art School. The basement is doused in blood yet there are no bodies to be found. Mr. Self, an elderly and respected art critic, has been sliced and diced and found elsewhere in the building but Melissa knows nothing about his death, however she does have an elaborate and unbelievable story to tell the detectives. Is she the only witness or is she the only suspect?
The film plays out through a mixture of Melissa's interview and flashbacks of what actually happened. Think 'The Usual Suspects' but not as good. Chelsea Edge is impressive as Melissa but she does go a bit hard at times. Instead of trying to help by explaining what she knows, there seems to be some resistance straight away which sort of makes her less of a victim and her frequent snarls are pantomime villain-like. The detectives are a bit annoying in the sense that they do that thing that all onscreen cops tend to do and ask around the actual questions instead of just getting to the point.
Nothing really happens until about 50 minutes in and then people start getting taken out very quickly. Sadly there's very little atmosphere and tension in the build up to any of the kills so they just happen without any real emotive reaction. The film puts all its eggs in the one basket and hopes that the viewers are invested but the mystery behind who the killer is or what is actually going on isn't very interesting. There's an attempt to make it engaging and compelling by involving the arts in the premise but it still falls a bit flat. I didn't feel any connection with any of the characters. In fact a few of them were really over the top and downright infuriating. It didn't feel cinematic and the whole thing was reminiscent of an extended episode of 'Midsomer Murders' (no shade intended) but desperately wanted to be something like 'Urban Legend'.
There's one interesting kill involving a BDSM chair but it happens so quickly with no time to build suspense or anticipation and then we just go to the next scene. And later there's a torture scene which could've been brutal but we don't actually spend any more than about 10 seconds teasing it before moving on with barley showing any blood.
There's a fair amount of philosophical dialogue about art imitating life and how the artist must suffer. It's very vague and there's little to no explanation behind any of it. If only we could've spent more time with the characters and had them fleshed out a bit more. And I would've liked a little bit more style to how it was shot too to help give it some atmosphere and personality. I think the writer and director are really trying here but unfortunately it just doesn't work and there's a very weak and obvious twist that leaves the finale deeply unsatisfying.
- Gavin Logan
'End of Term' is available on from Reel2Reel Films on Digital on October 2nd