F (2010)

F is a quality British horror film. It is well directed, well acted and has a haunting, exciting soundtrack that is incredibly atmospheric. Tragically the plotting seems inconsistent and there’s a distinct lack of payoff, but this doesn’t harm the film too much. It is thoroughly enjoyable, genuinely tense, truly horrible in places and well worth your attention. A* for effort – B for attainment.

Robert Anderson (David Schofield) is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Suspended from teaching after a violent incident with a boy in his classroom, secondary-school teacher Robert sees his life fall to pieces. His wife leaves him, his daughter hates him, the other teachers pity him and the pupils openly mock him. He turns to drink and loses passion for his job. Alone, desperate and sad, he believes his life couldn’t get any worse… He was wrong.

Staying late with his in-detention daughter, the school suddenly comes under attack. Not by monsters or terrorists or aliens, but by faceless free-running teenagers in hoods. And not just under attack, but murderous assault. Robert finds himself stuck in the school building with a smattering of teachers, school staff and an incompetent security guard. With his daughter missing and a gang of brutal killers on the loose, Robert has to finally take responsibility and protect his daughter from harm.

The synopsis above doesn’t do F justice. The build up is intense, the characters compelling and the dialogue sharp. The score especially compels, propelling the movie forward as the violence worsens and the siege becomes a battle to escape. It is initially well constructed, but becomes a little undisciplined toward the end.

The violence in F is implicit rather than in-your-face, which is a welcome surprise after the plethora of Saw-esque “show everything” death fests we’ve been treated to recently. There are some truly disturbing moments – security guard barbeque, jaw-battered teacher, barbed wire facial – but it’s the moments of horrible realization on the victims’ faces, seconds before death, which really stick in the mind. Yet it’s also extremely frustrating that you never see the final fates of some characters – the policewoman, the security guard, even the evil hooded teens tearing up the building – and some may find this more annoying than simply acceptable. The ending may also frustrate, but I personally found it sharp and smart.

What makes F work so well is the acting. Every part is cast perfectly, with David Schofield playing the emotionally-battered Robert Anderson to perfection. He is instantly believable, and loveable despite his flaws. Schofield is startlingly truthful in his portrayal of a man holding his life together by minute invisible threads. Finlay Robertson is also frustratingly real. His portrayal of the slightly off-kilter, awkward security guard is so well created he’s phenomenally angering to watch. You want to reach into the screen and shake him awake – but this is testament to Robertson’s excellent skill and director Johannes Roberts’ ability to get the most of out his actors. All the actors do extremely well, even the smaller roles, and everyone we meet is recognizable to us, but far from being clichéd – a difficult thing to achieve in any film.

Johannes Roberts should be proud of F. It is by far Roberts’ best achievement, after the laughably poor Forest of the Damned and the enjoyably silly When Evil Calls. F is not without its flaws – the antagonists’ facelessness becomes more annoying that intriguing, for example – but it is a well created horror film that has some awesome moments and genuine scares at times. The acting alone makes F worth watching.

F is a well-crafted British horror film. It becomes inconsistent and conclusion-less towards the end, but this does not greatly damage it. Excellent acting, a quality score and some decent set-pieces makes this well worth watching. F may not receive full marks, but it definitely doesn’t Fail.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

One Comment on “F”

  1. Dan Carden says:

    Brilliant film, great cast and awesome deaths! Never want to go near a school or hoodies ever again.

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