FEARNET Movie Review: 'Bad Kids Go to Hell'


It's hard to know what to make of the indie horror satire Bad Kids Go to Hell simply because the flick has no freaking idea what it is. That's not to say that a low-budget genre film has to fit into any specific category, but here's an example of a potentially novel idea and some solid production value being used in service of... what? At first Bad Kids Go to Hell seems (a lot) like a late-arriving horror version of The Breakfast Club, but early in the film one of the characters dismisses the widely-adored '80s dramedy as little more than empty-headed teen angst nonsense.

So is Bad Kids Go to Hell some sort of chaotic piece of pop culture weirdness like the recent (and somewhat similar) Detention? Not really because it's slavishly beholden to a ton of backstory and chit-chat that accomplishes little besides slow the movie down to a crawl -- and while I did not care for Detention, that movie has a sense of energy, at the very least.

So that means that Bad Kids Go to Hell is (by default) little more than a "six kids in detention" horror story that spends way too much time on things that simply aren't scary, creepy, novel or new. It certainly doesn't help that all of the characters are insufferable teenaged assholes. That might be one of the points that co-writers Matt Spradlin and Barry Wernick are trying to deliver in a rather over-the-top and convoluted fashion, but that doesn't make these spoiled brats any less annoying to spend time with.

From a horror fan's angle, we're expecting that one of the detainees is a psycho of some sort, but then the movie goes up and throws an :"ancient Indian burial ground" subplot into the mix. It's clearly meant to be a goof on one of the most overused haunted house concepts under the sun, but it's hard to call something satire when it's never funny, and it's hard to take "scares" seriously when none of the characters in the film can manage to.

A lot of the film's irritatingly schizophrenic nature could be overlooked if the intentionally broad and one-note "stereotype" characters brought anything besides snark, sarcasm, and derision -- but Bad Kids Go to Hell is content to settle for shock value and venom over wit, thrills or insight. Frankly it seems like one of those movies made "for teenagers" by people who know little about teenagers aside from what they see on sitcoms and daytime talk shows.