Boarding School (2018 film)

Boarding School is a 2018 American horror film written and directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Luke Prael, Sterling Jerins, and Will Patton. The plot is about a boy who is sent to a remote boarding school and discovers something sinister occurring there. The film was first released in the US on August 31, 2018.

Boarding School
Boarding School (2018 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBoaz Yakin
Written byBoaz Yakin
Produced by
CinematographyMike Simpson
Edited byMartin Brinkler
Music byLesley Barber
  • Farcaster Films
  • Gigantic Pictures
  • Maven Pictures
  • Old Greenwich Capital Partners
  • Storyland Pictures
Distributed byMomentum Pictures
Global Road Entertainment
Release date
  • August 31, 2018 (2018-08-31) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States


Jacob Rathbone is a 12-year-old boy with a fear of the dark who lives with his stepfather, Davis and his mother, Isabel, who is frustrated with her son’s frequent night terrors. After being discovered dancing while dressed in his late grandmother’s dress, Jacob is sent away to a boarding school in the wilderness governed by the eccentric Dr. and Mrs. Sherman. He meets his classmates: social outcasts like a disfigured burn survivor, Phil; Tourette's sufferer, Frederic; autistic Elwood Ramsay; and manipulative Christine Holcomb. Their classes are administered under Dr. Sherman’s strict regime that consists of a Bible Studies curriculum and corporal punishments.

Not long after, Frederic is discovered dead half-naked in the bathroom in apparent suicide by hanging. Christine uses this opportunity to flee the school with Jacob, only to be caught and brought back. Dr. Sherman reveals that Christine was sent there as a result of having murdered her older brother, Timothy, and driving her mother to commit suicide over the tragedy. Christine lures Jacob to her room, where she confesses to talking Frederic into trying out autoerotic asphyxiation and pushing him to death to divert everybody’s attention so she could escape. She blackmails Jacob into dancing with her, during which she attempts to stab him with a pair of scissors but is overpowered by him. In a display of her masochistic tendencies, she professes her love for him and claims she wanted to provoke Jacob into beating her up.

Jacob later finds Elwood dead in bed. An argument between Dr. and Mrs. Sherman — whose real identity is Lynn Adams — reveals that it was she who had murdered Elwood, and that the children will all die that night. He finds the bodies of the real Dr. and Mrs. Sherman and Frederic stashed in the freezer in the basement. A conversation between Mrs. Ramsay and Dr. Sherman suggests a prior arrangement where, being unable to cope with Elwood’s condition, Mrs. Ramsay had sent him there to be killed off seemingly in an accident — a fate that awaits all the other children. Ms. Adams stabs Mrs. Ramsay to death; Dr. Sherman slits Ms. Adams’ throat and kills the groundskeeper.

Dr. Sherman reveals to Jacob that he has been contract killing since he was around Jacob’s age, and his plan is to have everyone in the house killed in a fire. Jacob also finds out that it was his stepfather, Davis, who had him sent there to rid himself and Isabel of him. Jacob manages to bludgeon Dr. Sherman to death and set him on fire.

He evacuates everyone from the house except Christine, whom he leaves for dead as a way of avenging Frederic's death. Having declared his love for Christine, Jacob peels off his dress, showing his true, naked self to his friends for the first time. Now rescued, the children reunite with their parents, as Jacob whispers to Phil's father that he knows of his intention, and promises to make him regret it if anything happens to Phil.

Throughout the film, the audience is shown flashbacks where, being forced into hiding during World War II, Jacob's grandmother Feiga, a recluse, sharpened her teeth with a nail file, while her compatriot was frequently raped and tortured by a Nazi soldier in exchange for her life. Back at home, having finally overcome his fear of the dark, Jacob waits as Isabel’s terrified screams are heard from the dinner table. Davis dies from ingesting poisoned wine. Jacob taints his lips red with blood, mirroring Feiga ripping out the Nazi’s throat with her fangs; suggesting that just like Feiga, hardships have made him a fighter albeit a monster.



On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 38% rating based on reviews from 8 critics, with an average rating of 4.6 from 10.[1] Metacritic gives it a weighted average score of 45 out of 100 based on reviews from 5 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2]

Dennis Harvey of Variety called the film a "conceptually muddled mix of quasi-horror" and concluded that it is "too slowly paced to deliver much excitement, let alone scares, while its respectable packaging elements are too conservative to provide enough atmosphere."[3]

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter laments that "Yakin's script wants to deal with some big issues" but "looking cool isn't quite enough to drive the action home."[4]

Nick Allen of gave it 1½ stars, writing, "Yakin's film offers little clarity with all of its hammy, left-field ideas, in spite of their originality when packaged as a horror movie." He also opined that the acting by the young cast "is nothing to write home about".[5]

Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times complimented the ornate sets and Yakin's skills in generating atmosphere and tension. He concluded: " ...this is more a surreal, nightmarish and occasionally sexually explicit trip into an adolescent’s psyche than a spook show. Yakin uses genre packaging for an intense, personal film, which many viewers may find discomfiting — if only because it’s so hard to classify."[6]


  1. ^ "Boarding School". Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Boarding School". Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. ^ Harvey, Dennis (4 September 2018). "Film Review: 'Boarding School'". Archived from the original on 2018-09-05. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  4. ^ "'Boarding School': Film Review". Archived from the original on 2018-09-05. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  5. ^ Allen, Nick. "Boarding School Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) - Roger Ebert". Archived from the original on 2018-09-01. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  6. ^ Murray, Noel. "Review: Boaz Yakin's 'Boarding School' is a complex psychodrama disguised as gothic horror - Los Angeles Times". Archived from the original on 2018-09-05. Retrieved 22 October 2018.

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