‘They have everything under control’
School of the Damned is a 2019 British science fiction horror film about special kids that can kill using their minds alone.
The plot was clearly inspired by Hammer Films’ Village of the Damned (1960), which was based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos, and also led to the 1995 remake of the same name directed by John Carpenter.
Directed by Peter Vincent from a screenplay written by Philip Dyas (A Fistful of Lead; Viking Siege), the Dead Pixel Production stars Michael Geary (For We Are Many; Dune Drifter; Soul Reaper), James Groom, Daisy Aitkens, Craig Russell and aforementioned Philip Dyas.
When a teacher, Mr Middleton, leaves his inner-city, London school and arrives at a British village to work at the local grammar, it doesn’t take long for him to start feeling uncomfortable. The place is strange – students are extremely and unanimously well behaved, eerily unlike usual children of that age.
The single difficult student is the new kid, Georgie, who is violently injured in a fight, even though the school is adamant, ‘there are no fights here…’ Mr Middleton is surprised to discover a very young student from a “special class” was responsible.
The four kids in this class are – exceptional. Each forming a hive mind, that keeps the students and teachers in the school calm and focused thanks to the medication provided by an undercover government experiment.
The result is that these socially under-developed children force any wrongdoers to pay for their actions with murderous results. When the deaths start being uncovered, Mr Middleton begins investigating…
“I liked the frequent references to Huxley’s ‘Brave New World,’ the book that Middleton teaches in his class, as a metaphor for the hive mind’s wider purpose. Sure Vincent isn’t ashamed to plunder from his influences to put his story together, but as a debut feature this was very watchable, and I really liked Brad Watson’s creepy theme tune as well.” Dark Eyes of London
“Transplanting the essence of the classic tale to modern times should have given the writer and director the confidence to change more, either updating the ways in which the kids could cause harm with their power (e.g. mobile phones, internet, etc) or highlighting the comedic aspect of adults being so worried about affecting the children in their care. None of that happens, although there are a couple of moments that show both Vincent and Dyas were clearly trying to lace the material with humour.” For It Is Man’s Number
“The movie makes no mention to having any association with Village of the Damned despite copying the shotgun scene from that movie and is more of a stand-alone cheap copy that takes the concept from that movie and fails to do anything with it. The whole thing was pretty much underwhelming. Whilst the movie isn’t a complete write-off, it really isn’t anything to spend time on either.” Reel Horror Show
“School of the Damned was director Peter Vincent’s first film and he only had eight days to shoot it. That he managed to get anything other than generic direct to video camera work done is a minor triumph. But the script from Philip Dyas (Viking Siege, A Fistful of Lead) has little feel for the genre and wastes these flashes of inspiration.” Voices from the Balcony
In the USA, School of the Damned was released on DVD by 4Digital Media on November 5, 2019. A British DVD release arrived on 6 January 2020.
Cast and characters:
Michael Geary … Abbott
James Groom … Tony
Daisy Aitkens … Ms Murphy
Craig Russell … Agent Stone
Philip Dyas … Mr Cassidy
Sophie Willis … Jemima
Amelie Willis … Sarah
Sarah Cullum … Mrs Holmes
Aidan Largey Poland … Marquand
Village of the Damned (1960)
Village of the Damned (1995)
Full film free to watch online: