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Though you can easily forgive Blame because the heart of the story is so good, once you start really taking note of all that is going on, you realize it might not be as good as it seems.
|Screenplay By||Quinn Shephard|
|Mr. Woods||Chris Messina|
|Jennifer||Trieste Kelly Dunn|
Abigail, a girl who apparently had an episode within the last year, has returned to school and while she attempted to live a quiet and peaceful life, it’s high school. Naturally, that’s not possible. Especially thanks to Melissa and her flunky of a friend Sophie. Some girl who is a cheerleader, as is Melissa, who doesn’t realize Melissa is playing her.
However, that’s not the main storyline going on. The main one deals with this substitute drama teacher, Mr. Jeremy Woods, who takes notice of Abigail. For reasons never fully dived into, perhaps because her dad is abusing her, well step-dad, Melissa gets jealous. I’m talking jealous enough to do more than say petty things but actually do malevolent things and coerce Sophie to help.
But, in all this, realize Mr. Woods isn’t innocent. His attention of Abigail goes from meaning well to them kissing and being that Abigail, seemingly like Melissa in a way, doesn’t get any sort of healthy attention, it leads to a crush. One which, with them performing The Crucible together, it leads to her eventually getting so into working with Mr. Woods that she kisses him, he kisses her back, and it puts him in a very weird place.
One in which we wonder, between the history we keep getting hinted about when it comes to Abigail and Melissa going from petty to malicious, what may happen in the long run to Mr. Woods?
A Slow Burn
Let me be upfront, when you begin the movie you’re going to probably roll your eyes as you see Melissa and Abigail. Especially for both actresses Quinn Shephard and Nadia Alexander play upon your perceptions. Shephard, on her own and through the rumors Melissa and other characters put out there, lead you to believe she is this quiet and strange girl whose parents seemingly leave her to her own devices most of the time. Which includes using candles in such a way which raises red flags.
Then with Alexander as Melissa, you get this usual mean girl type, with colorful hair, dresses in such a way I don’t think any school would allow a girl to, and just comes off as a stereotype. Yet, they both strangely evolve. In a way, it is like you are almost tricked. You get lulled into this idea that this is but another silly movie about two girls getting the hots for a real basic looking teacher. But, that is far from the truth.
Something we see as Abigail begins to come alive as she and Mr. Woods share passionate scenes while doing The Crucible. I’m talking about you, if they were in a college environment and not high school, you’d want them to explore this chemistry they have. And that’s where the slow burn comes in. As things get serious between Abigail and Mr. Woods, and Melissa gets jealousy, even with two boys in lust with her, each actor begins to blossom in such a way that you find little reason to pause your screen. You want to know what is going to go down and as Melissa becomes more desperate so that no girl she knows gets more attention than her, you want to see how far she is willing to go.
Something which, at least for me, gave me that sort of rush I assume people who drink espressos get.
So, About The Situation That Was Never Really Gone Into…
A few things: While the compelling drama is going on, Mr. Woods has this thing going with a woman named Jennifer. It isn’t clear what their relationship is, whether dating, friends with benefits, or in some grey area, but it does bring about some confusion into the plot. Just like how we solely see Abigail’s parents for one scene in the movie, and then they get written off with them working late every single day for the rest of the movie.
Alongside that, there is a bit of a question of why Ellie, Sophie’s friend, is Sophie’s friend considering how Sophie is with Melissa. On top of that, there is also the question of why Ellie never said anything about Abigail and Mr. Woods spending time together alone and kept the kiss to herself. Was she just living vicariously or wanted a way to stick it to Melissa for stealing her best friend?
And then there are the big issues: The first being was Melissa lying when she seemingly accused her dad of beating her and what the hell happened in psych class last year? The Melissa thing we’ll blow off for that came completely out of nowhere, but the Abigail in psych class thing, that bothered me. Especially because it is something skated around the entire movie and we never learn the truth. Did Abigail go to a mental hospital for 6 months and if she did, why? Was she really as crazy as Melissa tried to make her seem? I mean, on the surface, this movie can really be engaging but once that high comes down, you are left pondering about the slew of storylines meekly touched upon.
I really loved the sort of love triangle, I guess you can say, between Mr. Woods, Melissa, and Abigail. The chemistry between the characters, while weak at first, came to such a boil I didn’t know what could happen. But, when you peer behind that bit of drama and scope out the rest of the movie, there are so many dead ends that seemingly should have been clipped that it sort of takes a Brillo pad to the movie and reveal its luster might all just be paint.
Hence the mixed label. Though you can easily forgive Blame because the heart of the story is so good, once you start really taking note of all that is going on, you realize it might not be as good as it seems.