“First Lesson of Horror Movie 101: If you’re going to kill a bunch of people, viewers need to empathize with their plight. Otherwise, all we’re seeing are some interesting special effects.”
A virtually empty school haunted by hooded killers would normally be an idea that I could really sink my teeth into. Yet director Johannes Roberts‘ (Storage 24) 2010 film, “The Expelled” is mostly without bite.
Thinking about it, I think that the problem is that, as viewers, we never know what the nature of the menace is. We see three or four males wearing hooded sweatshirts whose faces always manage to be in a darkness deeper than any that actually surround them, whom manage to leap on metal shelves without a sound and seem way more dangerous than they have any right being.
The movie doesn’t imply that the’s anything supernatural about them, yet they feel very much supernatural and otherworldly, which does the film a disservice because there’s no groundwork laid to lead viewers to make such an impression (other than the killers themselves).
Another strike against the film is that everyone is so serious, long before the killers make an appearance, actually. In fact, the tone of the entire film is so dour that when the killing starts it doesn’t really make all that much difference, since life seemed to suck for everyone long before they began to drop like flies.
The movie is well-acted, but since it’s so hard to care about anyone, it doesn’t particularly matter when they’re killed, which is a pity since some of the gore effects are convincingly done.