I still have problems with this film. I really don’t think it takes its premise far enough to be worthy of the praise it has garnered. It might sound curmudgeonly, but it’s only really because the film is so much fun that it is as well-liked as it is. The minute you stop to think about what it is actually saying about horror archetypes and genre trappings, there’s really not a whole lot there besides, “We like watching dumb kids and monsters fight.” I really wish it had gone further, and examined why certain character types and mythological tropes remain so prevalent, why we do take so much pleasure in seeing the young punished and butchered, rather than simply pointing out that they exist.
But the film is what it is, and there is no denying that it has been fashioned with love, delight and the greatest good will in the world, and the results are increasingly enjoyable the more you watch it. It is all surface, even if it insists that it has layers, but that surface is peppered with plenty of detail that is hard to fully appreciate on a single viewing. As a result, it proves repeatedly rewarding and entertaining, offering up more jokes, asides and observations, that are knowing without further advancing its lazily developed central conceit. The cast is incredibly likable, regardless of which side of the divide characters lie on, which should cause problems, but for some reason actually doesn’t. I just wish, like the lovable rogue at high school, the film was genuinely interested in learning, growing and getting good grades, rather than simply charming his teachers and classmates enough to coast by on his good looks and affable personality.