Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Bad Kids Go to Hell vs. Beautiful Creatures, two supernatural high school movies hoping to turn into franchises.
PremiseThe hiss of teenage whispers, teachers lamenting over the state of the youth… Bad Kids Go to Hell and Beautiful Creatures both begin with the same message: high school is a dangerous place, kids are still cruel, and weirdoes are still ostracized. The plots, however, quickly diverge. Bad Kids Go to Hell bills itself as The Breakfast Club for 2012—a group of mismatched, misbehaving teens are sentenced to eight hours of the detention in the school library—with key differences. Firstly, the high school is not some lowly city public school, but the exclusive, private Crestview academy (everyone’s a dick!). Secondly… it happens to be built on land haunted by bloodlusty Appache spirits (it’s a tough life).
Beautiful Creatures focuses on the pale, but pretty Lena, the youngest in a family of witches (“We prefer casters”). Lena only has 75 days until her 16 th birthday, when her caster powers will be claimed for good, or for evil. Poor Lena’s not sure which side she’ll fall on—her family seems to go both ways—but if her boyfriend/love interest has anything to do with it, she’s not going to cross over to the dark side. The whole “caught between good and evil” personal battle is not a novel plotline, so we’re going to go for The Breakfast Club with ghosts.Advantage: Bad Kids Go to Hell
CastBeautiful Creatures’ supporting cast makes this category a little unfair, as it features Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons (our favorite pope ever), Viola Davis, and Emmy Rossum. Jeremy Irons also seems to be attempting a sort of Southern accent, so we’ll add bonus points for thinking outside of the box. Lena and Ethan, the two star-crossed lovers, are played by our old pals Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich looks just odd enough to become some sort of Taylor Lautner alternative heartthrob, and Englert has a girl-next-door, relatable appeal—like a less stoned version of Kristen Stewart. Bad Kids Go to Hell stars a bunch of unknowns who do not look like they should still be in high school. Judd Nelson plays the headmaster. Oh, how the mediocre have fallen.Advantage: Beautiful Creatures
Supernatural MojoAngry Native American spirits may be scarier than Emma Thompson as an evil witch with a Southern accent, but we know from that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that these spirits can be defeated or possibly appeased. We’re not so sure about Emma Thompson.Advantage: Beautiful Creatures
Sex!We’ve learned our lesson from Twilight and refuse to get duped again: sex scenes or bust! There’s bound to be some sort of carnal loving in Bad Kids Go to Hell: if no one loses their virginity, how will the evil spirits know who to kill first? We sort of hope that Ethan and Lena don’t do more than kiss in Beautiful Creatures, because they actually look like they are 16, and it would be gross. We wouldn’t mind an Emma Thompson/Jeremy Irons, electric, good-versus-evil sex scene, though. Too much to ask?Advantage: Tie
Special EffectsBeautiful Creature features storybook aesthetics—everything is heightened, from the deep purples and greens, to ominous storm clouds and an abundance of lightening. The costumes are rich, and when Emma Thompson channels her powers, her body is enveloped in black threads of smoke. There is even a scene with a tornado. The spirits in Bad Kids Go to Hell look like they belong in the original Ghostbusters.Advantage: Beautiful Creatures
VerdictThanks to a cast that includes accredited actors and people who appear to be teenagers, special effects worthy of 2012, and a more enthralling dark force, Beautiful Creatures is the clear winner. We’re not sure how good a film it will turn out to be, but we’re confident that it can’t be worse than Bad Kids Go to Hell looks. Winner: Beautiful Creatures