The Student (2017) Review
Tense thriller about a young man out for revenge.
The Student is a 2017 thriller about a woman with a haunting past, teaching at a law school with a newfound commitment to ethics.
Typically, the college teacher/student relationship in movies tend to stick to dangerous romance, but with Steven R. Monroe‘s latest, it’s anything but as personalities clash in terrifying ways in an often tense thriller that takes the law movie in a new direction, even as it clings to the familiar.
Abigail Grandacre (Alicia Leigh Willis) is a law professor teaching her students the importance of playing by the rules, that being an ethical lawyer is the cornerstone to a successful career. This is especially concerning for her as years before she was a prosecutor on a case that wrongly convicted an innocent man, putting her in an institution to recover. In her class is a young, handsome student named Vance Van Sickle (Blake Michael), a slick, highly-intelligent fellow who doodles in class but knows all the answers. When he fails his final exam though by what she claims is basically cheating, things get ugly and an anger within him puts him on a path for revenge.
There’s a surprising amount of depth to The Student, a film that easily could have puts all it eggs in the love sick basket, especially given the ages of the two leads, but Monroe, helming Irene Majcher and Eric Steele‘s pretty solid script, avoids these clichés altogether and instead finds plausibility in other ways, with a vengeance story that ticks along at a great pace. That all goes double by having the ‘psycho’ in the story be a man rather than a jealous young pretty co-ed. Sure, there are some contrivances, especially with Abigail’s husband Stan (Trevor St. John), who falls into several character ruts that don’t click as well as they should, but it’s easily overlooked.
Monroe, who is perhaps best known for his horror films, such as I Spit on Your Grave (2010) and The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015), is a prolific filmmaker and here, despite the limitation of the budget, builds plenty of tension even as the movie is almost entirely dialogue driven. However, it is the strong characters that work best, including a stepdad that plays into convention but turns out to be right, and a police detective that does her job without all the tropes. These are small parts but they resonant.
The film goes full tilt by its end, for better or worse, getting caught in the trappings of the genre, though even then, the movie remains surprisingly authentic, continually finding ways to upend the expected. Like all movies of this type though, it’s never really made clear why the maniac goes so quickly over the edge, only that they must, but at least The Student does it with some genuine chills.
A flawed film to be sure, nonetheless, there is a lot to like about The Student, including a couple of strong performances from the leads. While a generic, TV drama score weakens a bit of the suspense, the smart script and a plenty of momentum make this worth a look.
The Student (2017) Review
Movie description: The Student is a 2017 thriller about a woman with a haunting past, teaching at a law school with a newfound commitment to ethics.
Director(s): Steven R. Monroe
Actor(s): Alicia Leigh Willis, Blake Michael, Trevor St. John