“When a girl is obedient and sweet, the world cannot help but love her.”
In the capable hands of film Director Danishka Esterhazy, the new sci-fi horror LEVEL 16 plunges us into a blue and grey world, where young girls are brainwashed to be obedient and to serve.
The film keeps the viewer engaged with the unique concept of combining elements from 1984, Mean Girls, and Handmade’s Tale.
Here in the Vestalis Academy, the girls, raised under strict rule, have hopes that one day they will be adopted. Unfortunately, their ultimate end is much more evil.
A captivating premise draws you in with the introduction of uniformly attired young girls in a windowless institutional facility where one is ejected for not washing their face within the deadline.
The Vestalis Academy is a boarding school that “educates” girls from a young age until they’re teenagers. Obedience and Purity are crucial and rewarded with the promise of adoption by a wealthy family. In reality, inside the Academy is a dim, grey 21st Century workhouse where the young girls intake a daily dosage of mysterious vitamins, train to repress their feelings, forced to clean floors and are never allowed outside due to fear of contamination in the poisonous atmosphere.
Sixteen-year-old Vivien (Katie Douglas), keeps to herself and trusts no one. She reunites with Sophia (Celina Martin), a former Friend who had betrayed her. The duo, forced to work together, embark on a dangerous investigation to uncover the “real” truth about Level 16.
The film sufficiently provides its viewer with stylishness, a “twilight zone-esque” story, and captivating performances from a cast of solid actors.
Katie Douglas plays the duality of perfect student and ultimate rebel, and Sara Canning is mesmerizing as the complex Headmistress Miss Brixil. Peter Outerbridge provides a worthy villain that provides chills as the compassionate Doctor Miro who is revealed to be anything but.
One of the real heroes of this film is Production Designer Diana Magnus (Cube) who creates the chilling setting of The Vestalis Academy.
One aspect that would have been worth exploring would be the outside World view of the Academy. We never know where we are, except for the Russian speaking Guards. How did this place begin and how does it exist? Regardless LEVEL 16 is a satisfyingly effective horror film. Crafted by a solid storyteller, it is well-made and well-acted, and one of the more effective Dystopian films. This Level is worth the visit.
LEVEL 16 is now available in theaters and on VOD from Dark Sky Films.