Extracurricular Activities is a 2019 American Comedy Thriller directed by Jay Lowi and written by Bob Sáenz. In it, a mature, intelligent high school student has a side job arranging “accidental” deaths of fellow students’ parents. A cop detective notices this student is connect to all the kids of dead parents. Who wins the face-off?
I have been wanting to watch Extracurricular Activities for a couple of months now. It also was another film I knew nothing about going in. The title and poster reminde me of 2017s Tragedy Girls. So I thought perhaps it would be about a male high school student going around killing his fellow students. I enjoyed Tragedy Girls, so I was very open to giving this a chance just base on my assumption.
This was not at all what I assume, but I love what I got. Instantly we see characters dying, but it doesn’t look like a homicide. So it immediately had me intrigue asking how is he doing this and why? As the film goes on you, begin to understand what’s going on and who is behind it and the character’s motivations are quite interesting.
Colin Ford plays our serial killer Reagan Collins, and I must say I found his performance to be quite multi-face and a tad alluring. Reagan stands out from other serial killers in cinema.
He’s not psychotic, or sadistic, he doesn’t come from an abusive home or is dealing with some trauma. He’s not even someone who takes any pleasure out of his kills and to a degree never has to get his hands dirty. Which overall makes him fascinating to me. Reagan is a top marks student; he is polite, well-mannere, has a great relationship with his parents and all the teachers love him. That for his wonderful can-do attitude and wholesome values.
Reagan has ambitions to make the world a better place. But in his mind, this means making the world a better place by murdering his fellow student’s parents upon request and for a profit. Afterall if you’re good at something, why not get paid? Reagan has rules; he will only kill if you can provide sufficient evidence. That your parents fit the criteria of deadbeat parents who are causing mental, emotional or physical harm to their children and those around them. If he feels you have provide the evidence he needs he gets to work on his public service.
Reagan’s kills are well planned out proving him to be an incredibly methodical person, which is quite impressive.
No kills are the same; they all appear as accidents and are tailor to the victims in question. It’s fascinating watching him plan out these kills and being so precise, all to the point where he’s like reverse Columbo. Columbo is a character from an old crime series about a detective who solves crimes. The unique thing about this character is that at the start of the investigation he always knows who did it, he just has to prove it and how.
In Reagan’s case (and why I say reverse Columbo) he gives his “employers” an envelope and instructs them not to open it until the deed is done. The envelope contains paper with a date, location and method for the kills. Those who order his services are incredibly impress at how accurately he can pull this all off. That as he never fails to meet his deadline and never wavers from his method.
What I love about this movie is that as intelligent as it is there is humour to the film, but not in your face comedy, it’s all very subtle making it more appealing and in keeping with the film.
This film has no violence or gore involve in it whatsoever which also makes it unique. Reagan never has to be present for the deaths or even execute them himself. He puts things in motion and lets the universe do the rest. It’s incredibly refreshing and re-enforces all I’ve been saying about films. That think to make an impression you have to throw a lot of blood and guts at the screen, which tends to have the reverse effect. It’s unimaginative; it’s repetitive and serves little purpose; it doesn’t even have much shock value anymore. But to have a film that has an absence of all those things and is still effective is probably more shocking and also far more appealing as a viewer.
This film has the traditional cat and mouse dynamic between killer and cop, but it’s not at all how you would expect. Timothy Simons does a great job as disgrace cop Cliff Dawkins. He’s not winning any awards for father or husband of the year, and he is slowly driving himself off the cliff in an attempt to prove Reagan to be a killer. Reagan’s calm and respectful demeanour continues to piss off Dawkins and drive him crazy even more so because it’s all quite genuine. He’s calm and confident in his abilities and his rapport with the adults of the community. So he has little to worry about, but Dawkins will stop at nothing to get his man and save his reputation even at the risk of his sanity.
This film has not one but two surprise twists at the end, and as someone who can see a twist coming a mile away
I am incredibly impress that I didn’t see either of these coming and I love them both. The reveals were so unexpect and made the entire film even more impressive than it already was. It takes Reagan’s cunning, and intelligence to an all new level and gives you a whole new perspective on the film. And then to provide you with another reveal after this, which is not very common to do more than one. But it again was good and gave even more layers to the previous events in the film.
All and all I love this film, it was unique, and it stands out from other films of the genre especially in this day and age. It had me interest from start to finish. I felt that the style in which the film was shot, which for other films might feel low quality or low budget, I think work perfectly for this film. It almost gave it this Pleasantville tone at times which juxtapose with people being kill in every scene, somehow made it more entertaining. Would highly recommend people giving this a watch and I would definitely watch this again.
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Ray Xue
Stars: Keenan Tracey, Brittany Raymond, Spencer Macpherson
Written By: Matthew Abrams, Padgett Arango
On Disc/Streaming: Jan 17, 2020
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
CRITIC REVIEWS FOR EXTRACURRICULAR
Dark, funny, thrilling, and loaded with YA menace, this is a refreshingly modern take on typical slasher tropes that sticks the landing without having to go anywhere near the big dance.
Director Ray Xue establishes a dark and very serious tone while keeping things authentic with offhanded interaction and complex character detail.
A dreary and flat exploration of teens killing teens; given the taboo topic, Extracurricular could have been so much better.
if these four high-achieving, middle-class kids are more than happy to exploit, objectify & assassinate strangers for their own kicks, then we are left to wonder what they are capable of doing to their friends, their loved ones and each other.