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Monday, February 18, 2013

Sean Kelly

TIFF Next Wave: My Thoughts on Ghost Graduation

ghostgraduation

I missed the Spanish comedy Ghost Graduation when it originally played last fall, as part of TIFF 2012, so I was happy when the film was brought back as part of the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival for Youth.  The film is described as “The Breakfast Club meets Ghostbusters” and I thought that the film was absolutely a joy to watch.

A high school teacher named Modesto has been cursed with the ability to see the dead since a young age.  He hasn’t been able to keep a job and he is constantly visiting a shrink (and his dead father) to try and cure his condition.  Modesto is called upon by the principal of a high school with an unusual request: For the past twenty years, the school has been haunted by five students, who died in a fire while serving detention, and the principal wants Modesto to help the ghosts with their unfinished business, so they can move on to the afterlife.  However, this exorcism has be done quick, since the principal is in danger of losing control of the school, which was founded by her father.

Despite being a Spanish-language film, Ghost Graduation was a highly enjoyable film that is likely to be quite enjoyed by all cultures.  It probably helps that the film is absolutely soaked in American pop culture.  The film obviously takes a lot of inspiration from The Breakfast Club in how each ghost is representative of a different high school stereotype, from the jock all the way to the outcast.  In fact, there is one scene in the film that plays direct homage to the classic John Hughes film.  Also, there is quite a lot of American music in the film, including a hilarious recurring gag in how the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” reminds Modesto of an embarrassing ghostly experience he had during a high school dance as a teenager.

Despite the film’s ghostly premise, the film is much more of a laugh-out-loud comedy than a horror film.  In fact some of the funniest moments in the film involve the ghosts using their powers to scare the staff and students of the school.  This includes terrorizing a teacher with a skeleton and flying books and possessing the living, causing them to do embarrassing acts.  The film features an antagonist in the form of head of the Parent’s Association, who believes that the hauntings are just a delusion of Modesto and the principal.  It isn’t too much of a spoiler to say that he eventually gets exactly what he deserves.

Overall, Ghost Graduation is the type of film that proves that a comedy doesn’t have to be in English to be absolutely hilarious.  It’s almost a shame that a North American remake (produced by Will Smith) is currently in the works, since this Spanish film is able to stand just well on its own.  I highly recommend checking out this film if you can.

10 | LOVED IT  

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).