I’m not sure what it is about Australia, but they seem to be really good at making horror films. Whether it’s brutal serial killers a la Wolf Creek or psychologically damaging paranormal features like The Babadook, Aussies just seem to have their finger on the pulse of fear, and the team behind The School are committed to carrying on that terrifying tradition.
Written and directed by Storm Ashwood and produced by Blake Northfield, Jim Robison, et al, the film centers on Dr. Amy Wintercraig (Megan Drury), a neurologist whose son has fallen into a coma after nearly drowning. Despite knowing that it’s improbable and in spite of pressure from her colleagues, Wintercraig is committed to waking her son.
After a particularly difficult night, the doctor wakes to find herself, not in the hospital where she fell asleep, but rather in a demented and derelict school full of nearly feral children and she soon discovers that survival might be the only way to save her son.
“It’s a bit like Silent Hill meets Lord of the Flies,” producer Jim Robison says.
Looking at images from the film, I’d say that description is spot on.
Robison, who spoke to iHorror, also points out that to get just the right atmosphere and look for the film, production took place at Gladesville Mental Hospital, one of the oldest of its kind in Australia that is also considered one of the most haunted places in the world.
Gladesville’s sprawling grounds and derelict buildings have a storied history dating back to 1838 when its doors first opened. Robison reports that there are over 1200 unmarked graves on the property and they found numerous cryptic messages carved into the walls by former patients.
“When we got there, we realized we had the perfect location for this story,” Robison explained. “When the place first opened you could be committed for all kinds of reasons and the people there weren’t treated very well. In some of the rooms we found messages like ‘Look behind you. I’m still here.'”
The film includes an impressive cast of veteran actors like Nicholas Hope alongside newcomers such as Will McDonald, who Robison calls one of the most impressive younger actors with whom he’s had the privilege of working.
The School will make its worldwide debut July 27, 2018 on opening night of Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow, Australia’s premiere traveling horror film festival, and Robison says news of the North American distributor and release dates will be announced in the coming months.