“Education, education, education.” New Labour’s old mantra rings hollow to English teacher Robert Anderson. This venerable warhorse stalks his classroom with the kind of “Dark sarcasm” that forced Roger Waters to write “The Wall.”
Ritual humiliation has served the craggy faced practitioner well his entire career – and if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. That is until Anderson’s luck runs out. Giving a pain in the arse student an F is one thing, rubbing their nose in it is another, so when the head butt comes his way, the teacher’s world falls apart.
Old school tactics may have worked back in the day but this is “Broken Britain” and when even the Conservatives advocate we should all “hug a hoodie” Anderson’s days are well and truly numbered. His fast track Head won’t back him, his wife has left him and his daughter is disgusted by him. Like that other school shocker ,“Class of 1984”, states, “Old teachers are like old athletes-they never come back.”
His career down, the swanny Anderson hits the bottle, necking more whiskey than Phil Mitchell in “Eastenders.” He shambles about his classroom like a semi-detached King Lear, his chalk face kingdom in tatters. His days are spent sending memos about increased violence against teachers and pestering the police to nick unruly kids.
Johannes Roberts sets up his hoodie horror “F” with extreme close up menace. You can almost taste the booze seeping out of Anderson’s pores as he lumbers around the staff room, oblivious to his overflowing pigeon hole, the sure-fire sign of a teacher in crisis. His camera is intrusive, uncomfortable in its invasion of his characters personal space, hot-housing us for the slaughter ahead.
Unfortunately, when the killing comes in the form of a gang of faceless hoodies, all menace is replaced by the tedious boredom of various adults creeping around the empty corridors. The hoodies are more H & M than Barking and Dagenham, prating about like free runners or zombie street dancers ready at any moment to break out in a rousing chorus of “Any Old Iron.”
No one fights back and every slaying takes place off-screen as if Roberts is frightened to choreograph a fight scene or even a struggle. Eventually “F” just dwindles away into nothing when it could have been a damning indictment of inner city education in Britain. As it stands, it isn’t even a serviceable horror film – just some gratuitous violence linked together with some tedious mooching about.
Teacher verdict: Must try harder.