Afterschool (Campos, 2008)

– Originally published elsewhere at the tail end of 2009.

It’s clear with the pervasiveness of the Internet, everything from brutal violence to accidental moments of joy become instantly available at the click of a mouse. Whether you’re picking pleasure or poison, the artificiality of these still images and streaming videos cannot be denied, even if they are supposedly capturing a “real” event. Nor can the effects such media have on America’s youth, especially recent generations born into an existence surrounded and consumed by technology. Diehards revel in these faux representations of the world that make up a vast, potent, and ultimately debilitating alternate reality.

Antonio Campos’ methodical debut feature, Afterschool, attempts to confront these complex issues by creating an almost bleached vision of modern-day adolescence, addressing social isolation and angst as if they were common threads in every child’s development. The result is a frighteningly restrained horror film that charts one young man’s descent into moral ambiguity while the unassuming world around him continues to fester with prescribed apathy. But Afterschool is not specifically a universal critique of technology, or the educational system, or even parental ignorance, but all these things occurring simultaneously, on a relegated and expected level, a system of normalcy bent and twisted and damn familiar. Continue reading