When you see one person writing, producing and directing, it’s either going to be Orson Welles or Tommy Wiseau. Which is Classroom 6? Here’s a hint: ROOM are the last four letters of “classroom.”
SPOILER ALERT: more for the other stories I reference in discussing how bad this movie is, though.
Classroom 6, written, produced and directed by Jonas Odenheimer, follows a documentary crew making a film about mysterious disappearances at a local college. The protagonist is an enterprising young believer, and her cameraman and boom mic guy are suitably cynical about the affair. The locals warn them them about the dangers of what they’re doing and OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Not really. You’re not that lucky. Once the crew and a few able-bodied victims are locked into the classroom building for the night, the hellish hijinx commence. A horrifying time is had by all.
Thank goodness they didn't rip off Paranormal Activity's poster.
Bad found footage movies usually feel like they’re made by people who know nothing about filmmaking. Classroom 6 feels like it was made by someone who knows nothing about filmmaking, acting, writing, video cameras, higher education, human interactions, reason, or the English language. I knew I was in for a good time when a throwaway character told the protagonist that she was a “woman of such grandeur.” Hey writer/director Jonas Odenheimer: words have connotations. “Grandeur” works for stunning vistas, national parks, and events like the signing of the Constitution. “Beautiful,” “gorgeous,” or even “snazzy” work for well-dressed, attractive women. That’s only offense one. Another character claims he has “extrasensorial perception.” Do you know what happens if you type “extrasensorial perception” into google? You get extrasensory perception. As in, a google search— had the filmmaker bothered to make one— would have revealed that mistake. Moral of the story: FACT. CHECK. This whole movie sounds like it was edited by Derek Zoolander.
All eugooglies aside, Classroom 6 is a master class in how not to be scary. For something to be frightening, there needs to be a certain amount of recognition. Good scary stories are like good jokes or good mysteries— something in the setup should explain or rationalize the ending. The viewer should recognize some earlier element, or a scary story’s just a jumble of disturbing events. Take Classroom 6’s obvious artistic grandpappy The Blair Witch Project— unless you remember that story about how the serial killer made his victims stand in the corner, the final image of Mike is nonsensical. As you’ve probably guessed, Classroom 6 lacks this element of recognition. There’s some talk early in the film of how a paranormal studies professor “opened portals,” assumedly to Somewhere Bad, but no reveal that confirms this fact.
Classroom 6 could have been good. The whole opening-portals idea could have been terrifying. Unfortunately, it only results in not one, but two Blair Witch-esque people-facing-corners scenes. In instances where the portals seem to open, the execution’s delivered through grainy security cameras, rather than the immersive point-of-view shots that justify the found footage approach. Even stationary shots could have been scary, though: you could have had a healthy character one moment, a corpse, or lack of anyone, the next. Grave Encounters employed that trick pretty well four years ago. Instead, Classroom 6 just gives us awkward timing and a lack of sense.
She looks kind of high, but she's still pretty hot.
There’s another idea in Classroom 6 that could have gone somewhere. The characters finally realize that any reflective surface— mirrors, windows, etc.— are portals to other dimensions. As such, they realize they’re safe in the hallways, away from bathroom mirrors and classroom windows. The potential for that moment of dawning recognition (to quote Bill Watterson) on which horror thrives is profound. If they’re in the hallways, what about the little windows in the classroom doors? The movie takes place at night. When it’s dark. As in, you can pass by a door and get unknowingly sucked in. Or, if Odenheimer wanted to go meta, there’s the fact that the CAMERA LENS— as in THE MUSE OF FOUND FOOTAGE— has a reflection. There was a beautiful right hook of an ending just sitting there where the characters, unable to stop talking to the damn camera, get sucked into hell through the lens. Now that would have provided some uncomfortable recognition, especially for generation selfie.
Worth the money? You know what’s really meta? The fact that I paid $5 to rent this on iTunes. iTunes became a portal that sucked up my money. Satan laughing spreads his wings. And opens his wallet.