Impressionable young minds, bizarre experiments, and an administration with questionable motives. Sounds like high school at its worst, doesn’t it? Well, at least maintaining high marks and having a clean nose are effective ways of curbing teen angst. After all, no parent wants to hear that their child is falling behind, but then again, passing takes on a whole new meaning when those who refuse to fit in are on the receiving end of toxic jock syndrome. And you thought hormones were bad.
Should you choose to spend time with this, you will find that fitting in doesn’t always equal good intentions, which is of interest in regards to Steve. At first, he doesn’t quite buy into the idea that the Blue Ribbons are more than just ambitious students. It points to the fact that their high esteem is never questioned, and so it doesn’t take much effort for them to bring in new blood. At the same time, there is resistance on Steve’s part, particularly during the scene in which Dr. Caldicott asks him if he would like to join. While I won’t go into the ramifications of his refusal, it carries weight because it conveys that he values his identity to the point where giving it up would cause him to be a shadow of his former self. It works because it’s relatable.
While the ins and outs of the experiments aren’t fully known, the fits of rage that the Blue Ribbons are prone to signify that they are experiencing side effects. It’s a shame that the side effects are only dealt with in a brief scene which involves replacing a brain implant, so I wonder if any of the scenes which were cut out elaborated upon the problem of science going awry. Nonetheless, Dr. Caldicott’s attitude towards science is given enough attention as he values it more than he does human life. Although he comes off as despicable, his mindset is an avenue which taps into the crisis of identity, which is a concern of Steve and his newfound friends. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it has anything to do with the fits of rage, but the fact that they are depicted with such intensity illustrates that those who experience them are attempting to remind themselves of who they once were.
The scene in which Steve and Rachel pay a visit to the psychiatric hospital to find out the method to Dr. Caldicott’s madness. I won’t say too much about it, but I will say that it is unnerving, especially since there is a sense of unexpectedness to the patents as they scream and express their distress. Plus, the green tinted lighting in the hallway has an eeriness to it. It’s a visual element that accomplishes a lot with very little.
Although it is unfortunate that the director’s cut will never see the light of day, there’s a lot to enjoy with this one. William Sadler’s performance is memorable and the score is well-implemented. Plus, Katie Holmes is easy on the eyes. Class dismembered.
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