Call me a sicko, but I’m a fan of dystopian stories that show us a darker side to our own reality. I enjoy being swept away by what could happen if we let things get too out of control. These cautionary tales have been utilized in every media, such as A Brave New World on print, SOILENT GREEN on film, and BLACK MIRROR on television. Now, it is time to take that style and bring it to the newest level, with THE THINNING, an original movie premiering on YouTube Red.
As the world is dealing with over population, in this dystopian thriller, the United States has enacted a standardized test for all children from grades 1 through 12. The lowest scoring children are then culled, in an attempt to increase the educational levels as well as control the population size. Things don’t seem on the level however as some students appear to be picked despite their normally stellar grades.
Any dystopian story should get you thinking about our current situation and how possible it is to get there. Are we dealing with over population in the world? We could be. But what we have so far is already making a huge impact on our environment. And much like in this story, our government is choosing a band aid to what could be an even bigger crisis.
I enjoyed seeing the different approaches from the teachers to their classrooms. Each one dealt with the difficult task of shuffling loose a portion of their class from this mortal coil in very different ways.
There is an ever present product placement throughout the film. And while I understand the importance of funding a production, I find it odd that a company would want to be aligned with a movie about children being killed en masse, albeit behind the scenes.
One side story involves a teacher that is having inappropriate relationships with his female students. I felt that this was an added commentary on our current school system that didn’t add a lot to the conversation, but was just used as a tired plot device.
Why should you see THE THINNING?:
The performances from the four main characters are all strong. As they cover the screen the majority of the time in various mixes, this is very welcoming and allows you to truly immerse yourself in the flow. Peyton List shows off her impressive experience despite only being 18. Having seen her in mostly kid-friendly shows/movies, it was nice to see her transition into a more mature format so comfortably. Stacey Dash is well known from CLUELESS and more recently her political views, so I was pleased to see her really disappear into the role of a very caring teacher with strong maternal instincts. Matthew Glave has always been a strong character actor, and he utilizes that to really amp up the duality of a politician that has skin in the game. And most surprising, was Logan Paul. Starting out on YouTube and then Vine, I didn’t expect much, but he brought some depth to the character of the governor’s son.
For mostly being set in one location, as that location was a school, they utilized the geography well to ensure that you weren’t stuck seeing the same rooms over and over, yet were able to play off of the lock down scenario to add in a claustrophobic feel when needed.
The film is paced well and comes in at a tight 90 minutes. You’ll have had covered just enough ground without being tired of what’s happening or feeling like anything was left out.
Laina Michaels: Peyton List (Jessie, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series)
Blake Redding: Logan Paul (CHAINSAW, Foursome)
Gov. Dean Redding: Matthew Glave (THE WEDDING SINGER, ARGO)
Stacey Dash (CLUELESS, MO’ MONEY)
Mason King: Michael Traynor (The Walking Dead)
Director: Michael J. Gallagher (INTERNET FAMOUS, SMILEY)
Writer: Michael J. Gallagher, Steve Greene (INTERNET FAMOUS)