British horror cinema has always been pretty adept when it comes to ripping a story from today’s headlines and cajoling it into some big-screen opus.

So, (not so hot) on the heels of excellent ‘hoodie-horror’ Eden Lake we get F, a school-bound tale of bloodshed that takes a sideways look at the escalating violence in the corridors of learning. 

While maybe not as pulse-pounding, or as shocking, as the aforementioned countryside carnage, F is a well-made, edgy little thriller that certainly marks out its director, Johannes Roberts, as a talent to keep an eye on.

Clocking in at a taut 80 minutes or so, things do not take long to get going.

We are quickly introduced to teacher Robert Anderson (an excellent David Schofield), who is left bloodied and bemused after being punched to the floor by a student in one of his English classes.

Separated from his wife, and struggling to maintain a relationship with his daughter (a pupil at his school), Anderson’s problems mount up when he himself his castigated for the incident.

Turning to booze, the teacher’s life rapidly takes a downward spiral, with the real threat of him losing both his career and his sanity.

As if things were not bad enough, everything ratchets up a couple of notches when Anderson decides to sentence his daughter to detention as a desperate way to try and spend some time with her.

With just the school corridors and a handful of other staff as company, the building is suddenly under siege from a number of hoodie-wearing, faceless hoodlums.

Setting fire to a security guard is just the start of their evil tricks as the gang set about causing as much mayhem as they possibly can, including murder.

Can Anderson rise to the occasion, recover his stature and save the day?

Well, to reveal that would be to give too much away but the real trick of F is you never really know just where the story is going to go next.

Sure, there are characters that you can identify as mere fodder the second they step on the screen, but that is certainly not always the case.

And by using a bunch of parkour experts as the hoodie gang (complete with black face-masks), there is a genuinely chilling edge to their exploits, movements and actions.

While the film is by no means awash with gore, a couple of stand-out effects sequences do add a nasty touch to the affair and linger in the memory.

But this film is very much more about setting a mood and running with it, and the excellent camera-work, along with a creepy soundtrack really enhances that.

The acting is good all round, from Schofield to his daughter (Eliza Bennett) and even former Hollyoaks star Roxanne McKee, who adds the requisite glamour.

The downside of the film though is very much the ending, which smacks a bit of a production team simply running out of ideas.

But, having built up a massive pile of brownie points for what went before it, the disappointing denouement is not enough to stop F getting a well-deserved recommendation.

Extras: Making Of, Interview with Roxanne McKee, trailer

Available now

 


About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.