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Ruth Platt
Robert Hands, Evan Bendall, Michaela Prchalova, Dolya Gavanski
Writing Credits:
Ruth Platt

Two schoolboy delinquents learn a lesson that they will never forget when a teacher at the end of his tether decides to abduct them.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $22.97
Release Date: 3/7/2017

• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Lesson [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 8, 2017)

As someone who works in education, I know how terrifying classrooms can be, though more in a figurative sense. 2015’s The Lesson makes the horror literal.

16-year-old Fin Tindall (Evan Bendall) grows up in a difficult family circumstance. His deadbeat father (Michael Swatton) works overseas, and his mother (Charlotte Croft) died. This leaves him in the custody of his obnoxious older brother Jake (Tom Cox), whose girlfriend Mia (Michaela Prchalová) becomes Fin’s object of desire.

In an attempt to fit in, Fin bonds with some local delinquents, and they abuse the teachers at their school. This backfires when instructor Mr. Gale (Robert Hands) finally can’t stand their shenanigans, so he plots revenge against the teens.

Though touted as a horror movie, one shouldn’t expect immediate thrills from The Lesson. Indeed, the entire first act gives us the impression we’ll watch a sensitive coming of age drama, as the tale focuses almost exclusively on the teenage struggles of poor Fin.

Just when I started to think I accidentally put a British remake of Boyhood into my player, the tone shifts, and this happens literally out of nowhere. I don’t mean that the film fails to build the potential conflict between the kids and Mr. Gale, as it does give us clear signs of that – as well as hints that Mr. Gale may not be especially stable mentally.

But the scene in which he begins his quest for retribution does pop up without warning, and I like that shift. If you weren’t aware of the movie’s synopsis, you wouldn’t see the change in focus/tone, as Lesson doesn’t telegraph Mr. Gale’s plans.

Heck, even though I did realize The Lesson would shift toward horror, I didn’t anticipate the direct plot progression. So few movies offer actual surprises that this adds zest to The Lesson.

Can the film provide much after it gets beyond some unexpected bits? Not really, as once The Lesson delves into Mr. Gale’s diabolical endeavors, it lacks much narrative purpose or heft.

Though the movie tries to have it both ways. The Lesson gets into sadistic violence while it continues to aspire to its sensitive character drama ways.

This approach doesn’t work, so the film’s final hour hews much more closely to the Saw series than anything else. We watch interminable scenes in which Mr. Gale tortures Fin, all in the interest of “education”.

That’s the hook here: Mr. Gale incapacitates the boys so he can “teach them” without outside distractions. This gimmick doesn’t go much of anywhere – it hints at Mr. Gale’s pathology as a teacher frustrated by his inability to reach students, but it mainly feels like an excuse for cringe-inducing violence.

The Lesson attempts irony because Mr. Gale’s sadistic methods work, as Fin actually gains knowledge along the way. Does the end justify the means? Probably not, but that twist adds an interesting complication.

Though not all that interesting, and various curveballs can’t change the general tedium that impacts The Lesson. This comes across as a plot outline in search of a story, as though writer/director Ruth Platt invented the notion of the sadistic teacher and then fit in a narrative around it.

Sure, The Lesson can seem awfully erudite, what with all of Mr. Gale’s literary references and allusions, but this feels like windowdressing – as do the various dreamy character moments. Despite all the attention paid to Fin’s background and life, we don’t ever really get to know him, so our understanding of the role remains superficial.

At its heart, The Lesson is basic “torture porn” gussied up with indie film clothes. The movie comes with a provocative theme and some unsettling moments, but it fails to coalesce into a consistently compelling tale.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

The Lesson appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a generally good but occasionally spotty image.

Sharpness became the minor weakest link, as the film could seem a little soft at times. Most of it provided fairly strong delineation, but definition wasn’t quite as concise as I might anticipate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of colors, an orange tint dominated the proceedings, with some yellow and teal tossed in as well. The hues tended to seem a bit too heavy, though not terribly so. Blacks were fairly dense, while shadows seemed a little murky. The image worked well enough for a “C+” but it didn’t excel.

I also found the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack to seem lackluster, partly because it came with a forgettable soundfield. Music and effects broadened to the side and surround channels on occasion, but they failed to add much involvement to the proceedings. This was a fairly chatty movie, so the soundscape didn’t bring a lot of material to engage us.

Audio quality seemed acceptable. Speech was intelligible but somewhat flat, as the lines could lack great naturalism.

Music and effects came across with reasonable clarty and warmth. Neither factor boasted much punch, but they appeared accurate and full enough. This ended up as a mediocre mix.

The disc includes a trailer for The Lesson but lacks any other extras.

When a teacher gets fed up with disinterested, insouciant students, The Lesson shows the path of revenge this educator follows. Really just glib violence combined with pseudo-intellectual moments, the film comes with some intriguing threads but it doesn’t tie them together well. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio and lacks bonus materials. Though I admire the film’s attempts to do something different, the end result remains inconsistent and fails to connect.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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