The continuing appeal and obsession with Twin Peaks, now for another generation, demonstrates how much he love a good mystery. Indeed, David Lynch is the grand master of the abstruse and Mulholland Drive remains one of cinema’s most beguiling and confusing puzzles. In the last few years, the likes of The Duke of Burgundy, Kill List, Evolution and P’tit Quinquin have all enthralled and bewildered. Sébastien Marnier’s second film School’s Out is a French conundrum with an apocalyptic feel.
When their professor jumps out of the classroom window during a lesson, as you’d expect most of the pupils are shocked. Except for six students, led by class representatives Apolline (Luàna Bajrami) and Poncin (Pascal Greggory), who look on with only vague interest. Pierre (Laurent Lafitte) arrives at a new school to take over as their substitute teacher for the final weeks of the year. He’s expecting an easy time teaching a class of the elite overachievers but soon discovers something sinister is going on.
School’s Out is a wonderfully abstract drama which tackles lofty themes through the eyes of a group of highly intelligent but apathetic teenagers. Sébastien Marnier sets things up beautifully. It’s impeccably shot and brings to mind the work of Peter Strickland in both aesthetic nuance and ingenious use of sound. School’s Out is a beguiling mystery which builds tension so subtly and cleverly that when it hits it comes as a shock.
School’s Out screens at London Film Festival on 18 and 19 October.