Title: Dismissed (2017)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Director: Benjamin Arfmann
Stars: Dylan Sprouse, Kent Osbourne, Rae Gray
In a Nutshell:
A neurotic overachiever, Lucas Ward (played by Dylan Sprouse) is irked when he fails to receive a perfect grade on a dense and thorough literary analysis paper from his high school English teacher. His ardent disagreement with the interpretation of his work soon evolves into a Machiavellian desire for revenge as he puts Mr. Butler (played by Kent Osbourne) through a spiral of torment that jeopardizes the instructor’s career, livelihood, and sanity.
Sprouse’s position in this film is not unlike that of Ross Lynch in My Friend Dahmer, another horror film from the same release year, in that he also deviates from previous family-friendly roles in media. However, this fact did not prove to be distracting from the character he is meant to portray – I didn’t hum the upbeat theme to The Suite Life of Zack and Cody every time Sprouse appeared onscreen and proceed to be overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia that momentarily lead me to lose focus on the serious atmosphere of the scenes at hand. Perhaps the first time, but not every time.
All fond childhood memories aside, Dylan Sprouse provides a believable performance that is equally parts intriguing and disturbing to the viewer. Because of the film’s careful pacing, the underlying dark nature of Lucas’s aspirations for success is gradually revealed to the audience as it is to Mr. Butler, and the lengths the adolescent psychopath goes to for the sake of self-satisfaction through control become ever more personal and vindictive. As well as a suspenseful drama that is able to consistently maintain viewer attention, Dismissed is a look into the perspective of an unstable mind that perceives the world as a grand chessboard, and will stop at nothing to win the game.
To Go, Rent, or Stream: I’d recommend that you stream this film on Netflix or Amazon Prime if you’d be interested in a decently satisfying drama.