DEPARTING SENIORS (2023)
Release Date: TBD [Nightmares Film Festival 2023]
Genre: Comedy. Horror.
Studio: Choppe Productions.
"Following an act of bullying, witty high school senior Javier develops psychic abilities which he must use to stop a mysterious serial killer targeting his classmates."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Departing Seniors is a terrific example of how to overcome stereotypical horror tropes and turn them on their head. Brilliantly allowing itself to be unique while sharing attributes from some of the legendary horror out there, calling them out in a very meta fashion during the feature. Departing Seniors is a tale of a student developing psychic abilities during a pivotal moment in his schooling - it’s less than a week to graduation and there’s a killer on the loose.
The film is a concise 85 minutes and it doesn’t waste a second where it doesn’t need to. Allowing the audience to experience the main character Javier (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio) 'endurance during just a glimpse of his time in school being the bud of the joke. Silverio is charismatic and relatable as Javier to all those who shared a sense of being bullied throughout the years and somehow endured it. His chemistry with his best friend in the film, Bianca (Ireon Roach) brings with it a sense of sincere friendship - providing a bulk of the humor the film has to offer. The trio of bullies (plus one we briefly witness at the start) is a great callback to the kind of brutality, both mentally and physically, a bully can lay on you - resembling yet another connection to the likes of the brilliant King novel Carrie.
Overall it’s a story about finding a killer and overcoming your bullies to find personal justice in the end. The psychic aspect of the film brings with a great intrigue and uniqueness that allows for a glimpse into the killings before they even transpire. It’s a mystery that had me on the edge of my seat until it all was revealed and what a wonderful portrayal of a killer we have here (they reference Scream's Billy Loomis quite a bit in the film but I’d more compare them to the thematic nature of Matthew Lillard’s Stu Macher).
During a Q&A, the feature was revealed to have a budget of around 300,000 and what the filmmakers were able to accomplish here is nothing short of stunning. A mixture of the Final Destination vision into the future and the mentality of a well thought out slasher. As Director Clare Cooney’s feature directorial debut, this a beautiful blend of what horror fans should love - horror, comedy and a great sense of suspense.