Well this weekend was when I decided to stop spending so much time aimlessly surfing the web and do something productive, i.e. watch some movies on Netflix. Something that caught my eye in the “Cult” category was Video Game High School. I don’t know how Netflix defines “Cult” but hey, I’d never heard of it so I guess I can’t argue. It seemed like a cool and original premise, so of course I decided to check it out. And I’ve gotta say, this is the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen since John Dies at the End. Let’s go into it.
In the movie’s universe, video games are insanely popular. No, I don’t mean popular like cheerleaders playing Temple Run. I mean popular like The Today Show is dedicated to video games. Video games are so popular that there is actually a famous boarding school dedicated to training kids to become professional gamers. The hero of our story is Brian, who gets invited to attend Video Game High School after getting a lucky kill against the school’s top FPS player, Law. The basic plot is pretty much your standard high school flick. Geeky boy must fit in, beat the bully and get the girl. The movie’s biggest strengths are some of my personal favorite storytelling aspects: characters and world building. It would have been easy for them to just throw in some lazy stereotypes but these writers weren’t having any of that. From the Rhythm Games teacher to the James Dean parody, all of these characters are satisfying.
My favorite part of the movie is this awesome world they created. Most of it revolves around the school, so I’ll start there. VGHS is a really exclusive school. Not everyone can get in. And even once you get in, you’re always in danger of being kicked out. If your gamer score falls too low then you get instant expulsion, no questions asked.
VGHS also has a bunch of different curriculum and cliques based on game genre. The movie shows First-Person Shooter, Rhythm Gaming, Drag Racing and Fighting. I’m sure there were a few more that they just didn’t have time to explore. I would have liked to see their take on Puzzle, Horror, and Sports gamers. But not Roleplayers, though. I’m sure at this point there’s no fresh material for them anymore. I guess that’s why they decided to make the school’s top Racer speak like a Roleplayer would. And yeah, that’s a funny character and a nice nod to the genre they left out.
Even outside the school, it’s a great world. Like I said, video games are crazy popular. I really like the scene in the beginning when the bullies steal Brian’s RPG loot instead of his wallet. The filmmakers paid crazy attention to detail elsewhere. Even in the dialog you can hear a bunch of gaming slang or references. But amazingly it was all fluid and believable. I’m sure we’ve all sat through hours of terrible movies where characters use forced slang words in scripts written by dusty old men who still think that Tom Cruise is a teenager. We can all appreciate characters who don’t sound like they were born in a focus group.
When I did a little research for this review I found out that this movie was based on a YouTube series, which I haven’t seen but I will. You should absolutely check out this movie. If you have Netflix, it’s on there in the Cult section. If not, it’s on iTunes and probably some other places. Oh, and if any of you noobs decides to pirate it, I’m gonna frag you so hard it’ll delete your Pokémon save.