See below for reviews of our films by Chris Rogers, who is currently studying at UEA for a degree in Philosophy and Film. Go to the ‘Our Films’ page to watch the films and see if you agree with his views.
It’s not easy to get a job, but for the sister of the world’s most infamous vampire lord it’s nearly impossible. Not for the usual reasons of insufficient work experience or questionable immigration papers, but due to the fact that the titular employee might attempt to drain the blood of those around her. All the young actors perform the increasingly farcical set pieces with a chuckle-inducing straight face and the lead actress in particular appears wonderfully confused every time someone around her takes badly to her Transylvanian trip-ups. Almost every facet of Vampire stereotypes is covered here, a rogue’s gallery of sly in-jokes, outright trashing of Twilight and enough puns to fill an entire stand-up performance, all neatly packed into a satisfying 10 minute slot. On top of everything else, it’s a better vampire movie than Dracula Untold!
A timid young girl steps into the larger world of secondary school, dwarfed by the imposing brick walls and scary grown-ups stalking the halls, when a Superman-esque guide steps out of a poster and leads our heroine on a journey through her new school, explaining the way it all works. Along the way they encounter the charming (a Shakespearean rap battle), the bizarre (an R.E. class entranced in meditation) and the cine-literate (the Saving Private Ryan scenario of the history class) inhabitants of the school. The collaboration with Project Trident’s Simon Panrucker adds that little bit of finesse to the proceedings, and the whole film leads into a grand musical finale that mixes the brass band extravaganza of 500 Days of Summer with the unpredictability of Outnumbered. It’s an energetic short that romps along at a good pace, and I only wish my own secondary school had produced such an engrossing enticement for signing up.
School of LEGO
This stop-motion short follows a single day in the life of Luke, a put-upon pupil of Sawston whose day begins with him oversleeping and goes steadily downhill from there. Though innocent and rather charming visually, there’s something very art-house and disturbing in there too: the bus driver, the teacher and the P.E. teacher have all taken the form of Darth Vader, which only Luke seems to find worrying. The character of Luke is like Buster Keaton in LEGO form, surviving an exploding Bunsen burner, being dragged along by the bus and run over by the rugby team, with only his dignity damaged. The use of LEGO and the home-made feel of the film give it exterior appeal, whilst the sharp script and indestructible hero give the short an internal charm.
Cupcakes is a love story with cake at the centre, and if that doesn’t sell it to you, I don’t know what will. It wanders among the students in a cookery class and their internal dialogues, exploring their romantic obsession with their classmates. The special effects far exceed the expected range of a school production and the minimalist colour palette is as sumptuous as the various cakes dotted around the set. The concept of the internal monologue is nothing new, but that’s not really what the film is about: it’s a wonderful story of creativity, love and acceptance compacted into a neatly trimmed, deftly decorated package.
The apocalypse has arrived: zombies stalk the land, consuming the flesh of the living…but school’s not out. Much like Shaun of the Dead, not much has visibly changed – the students look bored and uninterested in school, and there are still rules to be followed. Only now, the punishment for not following the rules has escalated from detention…to death. There’s a good balance of humour and darkness, the zombie make-up is minimal but effective (especially when the story moves to the principal’s office) and in only four minutes, finds new and inventive ways to escape and dispatch the living dead. Oh, and you get to see Romeo and Juliet…with zombies.