It’s funny how things work out sometimes. One of my sources of films to review is the dynamic duo at Aim Publicity…I know them as Deb and Polly. The other day I was sent a screener for a film called End Of Term with a note that included… “I’m just sending over a screener for End Of Term – a British thriller that sees a group of art students embark on a journey of artistic exploration that grows increasingly extreme…I thought it might be up your street.”
Now I don’t know how much of that was knowledge, flattery, or guesswork but, in a previous life, I was a lecturer in the the Art & Design Department of a Manchester college. The scenes of art student shows may seem totally bizarre and made up by a writer (John Paul Chapple) or a director (Mat Menony). However, I can say that art students, especially the ones that consider themselves to be “conceptualists” do tend to come up with some bizarre ideas. I remember one chap who, quite legally, came across a swan corpse and wanted to do something with the skeleton. Unfortunately for him, there was still all the flesh, fat, and feathers attached to it.
You Can Lead A Student To University…
Even more unfortunately for him, he didn’t know how to separate the bones from the wobbly bits. I can’t remember why but he came for me for advice. I remember suggesting digging a reasonably deep and wide hole to lay it out in so that the worms could do their bit. The next suggestion was to borrow a scalpel from the biology department to try and remove as much extraneous material as possible. For some reason he went with putting the corpse in a brewing barrel and covering it with water and lime. I can still remember him walking into the disused minibus garage, where he had left the barrel, some six weeks later and staggering out to vomit most extravagantly.
I’ve been in art classes. Ranging from the drawing a bowl of fruit classes to the look behind the kitchens and make something meaningful with what you find type. I suppose, what I’m saying is, art students can seem to be pretty strange to the wider world. Films and TV shows may portray them as wild Bohemian types that are totally unrealistic. However, until you actually spend some time in their company, you will never realise that they do, indeed, walk among us. A popular trope is how Picasso is hailed as a master of the visual arts but van’t get the nose in the right place. All I would say is to pay a visit to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and look at his early work; the man is a genius.
…But You Can’t Make Them Think
But in End Of Term, the art is, really, little more than a cameo. The story is based around a house that was donated to a university on the proviso that it used solely by art students. Unfortunately, the chap who bequeathed the house turns out to have been some sort of psychopath who may or may not still be staying there despite having died some years previously. Artistic exploration leads to the kind of torture that makes waterboarding seem like a trip to the dental hygienist. Incidentally, I do happen to think that a trip to the dental hygienist is similar to waterboarding but that is my problem. But what was a great treat in End Of Term was the cast. Very often in these relatively (£2.6 Million) low budget films you occasionally see a face you recognise. Sometimes two but, more often, none at all.
In End Of Term there were four! And all of them have appeared in Doctor Who! Admittedly, only one of them was an actual Doctor, Peter Davidson who plays Leigh, a lecturer. Another lecturer, Damian Self, is played by the wonderful character actor Ronald Pickup; trust me, if you don’t recognise the name you will know the face. Then there is DS Stacey Harcourt (Julie Graham) who was great in Shetland. And the last one I recognised was DI Jim Burman played by David Bamber. He really made an impression on me in A Very Peculiar Practice. He was only in one episode as a, funnily enough, university professor. Coincidentally, A Very Peculiar Practice was lead by a wonderful, caring doctor called Stephen Daker. He was played by Peter Davidson!
All in all, End Of Term is a well made, gory fright fest with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. It will be available on UK digital from 2nd October from Reel 2 Reel Films.
Movie Grade: B+
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!