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Afterschool review

A storm, a cat playing the piano, Saddam Hussein being hung, a girl being choked…

Opening with a striking montage flushed directly out of YouTube, 25-year-old writer/ director Antonio Campos’ austere debut drama channels Gus Van Sant and Michael Haneke to dissect the ethics and effects of the media-torrent pouring into the numbed brains of America’s youth.

Deliberately kept at arm’s length from us by Campos’ hyper-real camerawork, our blank-faced anti-hero is an awkward boardingschool teen who spends his days watching nastycumholes.com. But when he finds himself accidentally filming twin girls OD-ing on drugs and rat poison – instead of saving them – the psychological cracks start to appear…

Gripped with an unnerving iciness, Afterschool has style and smarts, but Campos never really manages to slice cleanly into his mega-relevant themes of voyeurism and violence, isolation and info-culture.

Predictable it might be, but fascinating for stretches.

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