Studio: 108 Media
Director: Jonas Odenheimer
Writer: Jonas Odenheimer
Producer: Jonas Odenheimer
Stars: Valentina Kolaric, Mike McLaughlin, Maurice Meija, Vince Major, Victor Manso, Jessica Amal Rice, Paul Thomas Arnold, Craig Cranic
A TV news crew investigates the unexplained disappearance of a professor and his student in a reportedly haunted school.
Judged by its haunted building investigation premise and poster mirroring the “Paranormal Activity” one-sheets, it’s not like “Classroom 6” builds collateral to be credited as an original “found footage” movie in the first place. But the film itself treads so deep in the footprints of so many movies before it that there is no need to wonder why it doesn’t have space to lift its foot and move forward.
Rumors of curses and whispers of evil have long plagued the fictional Santa Maria College in Bakersfield, with its classroom 6 reportedly serving as the nexus of nefariousness. One year after a professor and his student mysteriously vanish on campus, reporter Annie Monroe does what any investigative journalist would do in a “found footage” horror movie and assembles a news crew to dig into the disappearances. Annie begins her exposé in typical fashion by interviewing assorted students, faculty, a parapsychologist priest, and a pair of mediums during an unimportant opening amounting to little more than a means of advancing the runtime to feature length.
Some decent setup exists in the film’s mysterious early fiction. Mentions are made of an affair between the missing teacher and student, portals to Hell, and a possible connection to a discontinued college course concerning occult practices. (Santa Maria is clearly some sort of Liberal Arts school, seeing as how “Witchcraft and Ancient Symbols” was a class offered in its curriculum.)
With these potentially intriguing seeds planted, “Classroom 6” then proceeds to pitch shovel, water, and creativity down a hole in favor of salting the earth through follow-up plotting that could not be more tired if it overdosed on Ambien. A confessional video is shot selfie-style. A psychic accompanies a skeptical technical team. A timed loop through static surveillance camera feeds breaks up beats. “Classroom 6” is essentially “Grave Encounters” (review here) in a school instead of an asylum. Except Annie and the others are video news professionals and not reality show ghost hunters performing a stunt, so why do they have the janitor/groundskeeper lock them in for the night?
Not that this is a crack team of ENG pros. Forget that the 11/29 date on the camera slate doesn’t match the December 8th date on the intertitle text. I want to know what kind of news crew affixes lavalier microphones with gaffer’s tape and records a reporter speaking while next to a refrigerated vending machine purring like the zoo’s tiger den at feeding time.
Exposition established, the movie then makes it a mission to extinguish all audience interest. Cameraman Dan shoots b-roll of the building as the audience trudges along with slumped shoulders for every mundane minute of empty hallways, empty classrooms, and unlit bricks on the school’s exterior. Eventually, supposed psychic Jack joins up to inaccurately explain ESP as he and the host embark on a ghost hunt with all the frenetic energy of a Bob Ross painting tutorial. To find evidence of the haunting, Jack uses a compass and a tennis ball, two implements without any inherent ability to produce anything visually or aurally interesting, much less frightening. At this point, I actually begin wishing for some rehashed cliché to make an appearance just to alleviate boredom, even a garbled EVP recording or blinking EMF detector.
The makeshift team’s exploration of the school is about as half-assed as a paranormal investigation can be. Annie speaks extensively about her desire to discover the truth, something impossible to accomplish when she and her crew spend large swaths of time sitting lazily at classroom desks expounding on the afterlife.
Barely anyone has a brain operating at any significant wattage. When one supernatural expert suggests that an inter-dimensional portal can be opened via a flat reflective surface, Annie asks, “like a mirror?” as if there might be some other object fitting that description. Psychic Jack’s insightful input includes lines like, “whatever it is, it’s trying to tell us something.” And are there really still people out there in the world, particularly the dean of a college for instance, who don’t know what the red light means on a video camera? Maybe it is time we permanently retire that recycled scene from this sort of movie.
“Classroom 6” is also one of those movies that starts by revealing how it ends before jumping from 2012 to 2013, back to 2012, then to “two weeks” earlier, etc. without seeing any benefit from disjointed storytelling. “Classroom 6” is not offensive in the way that poorly produced “found footage” films typically raise blood pressure. It is just uneventfully dull and uninteresting. Without the courage to follow through on the novel aspects of its story and setting, the movie has nowhere to go but into the burn bin of indistinguishable “found footage” flicks about haunted buildings. And no one needs another one of those.
Review Score: 30