An Honest Review Of 'Dead Kids'

This is not your typical coming of age film!
PHOTO: Dead Kids/Netflix

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers:

Dead Kids follows a group of high school outcasts who team up to take revenge on the school's No. 1 bully. The movie centers on socially-awkward and studious Mark Sta. Maria (Kelvin Miranda) who lives in his nagging aunt's storeroom. He aspires to be admitted to one of the country's top universities and he also happens to have a huge crush on the school's A-student Janina (Sue Ramirez), arm candy to unbearable rich kid Chuck Santos (Markus Paterson).

While cast as Chuck's understudy in their school's theater production of Noli Me Tangere, Mark is approached by three schoolmates who were victims of Chuck's insufferable bullying—serious and brooding mastermind Charles Blanco (Vance Larena), group's jester and resident "gago" Paolo Gabriel (Khalil Ramos) and think-tank nerd and strategist Gideon Uy (Jan Silverio)with a hard-to-say-no-to proposal. They want to take revenge on Chuck by kidnapping him and forcing his alleged druglord father to give them a P30 million ransom. 

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The Short, Honest Plot:

It's not your typical coming-of-age teen drama! This is a compilation of the complexities of our generation that is based on a true-crime story in the age of social media.

The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them:

Kelvin Miranda (Sta. Maria)

Newbie actor Kelvin has appeared in the film Walwal (2018) and the GMA television series Kambal, Karibal (2017) and Contessa (2018).

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Markus Paterson (Chuck)

Markus Paterson is a Filipino-British actor and model who was first seen in 2016 as a contestant in Pinoy Boyband Superstar. We saw him as Miguel in the iWant Original mini-series High (2019) and as one of the leading men in the movie Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi (2018).

Sue Ramirez (Janina)

Sue Ramirez has appeared in various television dramas like Pangako Sa'Yo (2015),  La Luna Sangre (2017), and Hanggang Saan (2017–2018). In 2018, she starred in Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi with Jameson Blake and Markus.

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Khalil Ramos (Paolo)

Khalil Ramos is a Filipino actor and singer who started his career by joining Pilipinas Got Talent in 2011. He was last seen in the movie LSS: Last Song Syndrome, where he starred opposite real-life girlfriend Gabbi Garcia.

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Gabby Padilla (Yssa)

In 2019, Gabby starred in the films Billie And Emma and Eerie. She was also part of the ensemble cast of the online series Sabagay Life in 2016. 

Vance Larena (Blanco)

Vance Larena has starred in the movie Bakwit Boys, where he won Best New Actor at the 2019 Urduja Film Festival Awards. We last saw him in the film Open (2019), starring JC Santos and Arci Munoz.

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Jan Silverio (Uy)

New to the industry, Dead Kids is Jan's first major acting project!

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Did You Know?

1. Dead Kids is based on a true-to-life crime story that happened in 2018. It involved a 19-year-old college student who was kidnapped by his schoolmates. The captors asked for a ransom of P30 million. A twist to the crime was revealed when police discovered the true mastermind of the kidnappingthe victim's classmate who was kidnapped alongside him!

2. Dead Kids is the first Pinoy-made Netflix Original movie. It is directed by Mikhail Red, who also made history when his movie Birdshot became the first Philippine film to be included in the Netflix streaming library. 

3. The movie made its Philippine premiere as the closing film at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2019.

What I Think:

On the surface, Dead Kids is a simple teenage drama thriller. But I think what we really have is a masterpiecea patchwork of interwoven stories told through young relatable characters. 

As the first Filipino-made Netflix Original film, Dead Kids stood out for me because of its eccentricity. In Philippine cinema, we're always given films with lovey-dovey concepts, light-hearted storylines, and conflict that eventually ends on a good note. But Dead Kids is different! It deliberately swims in a pool of national issues, aiming to trigger our sensibilities. The film dared to deal with the current problems and complexities of this generation. It carefully threads through social issues and their implications through the lives of its characters, while packaging itself as a classic "coming of age" tale.

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It also presents the clear and present danger posed by technology and social media as a way of life. The clever use of Airpods as a socio-economic status determiner during one scene is commendable. Even the use of social media updates as proof of presence in a specific place at a specific time says a lot about this generation's concept of identity and truth.

Dead Kids creates a world without adult supervision—there are almost no adult characters in the story. The film is all about the younger generation taking matters into their own hands, correcting wrongs, and defending the weak. It may be dark, violent, and bloody, but that is what a revolution is all about. Just like the Karl Marx reference in the film, "They have nothing to lose but their chains."

Yes, Dead Kids is violent and gory. It's a lot darker than your average teen drama. But maybe, in this society, what we need is fiction that offers an alternate universe that reflects the hard-to-swallow reality. After all, we all are Dead Kidssocial outcasts who are just waiting for our time to take down our own "bully."

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I'd Recommend It To:

I'd recommend this to indie film fans and those who are *skeptics* when it comes to Pinoy movies. This is definitely a breath of fresh air. And if you are one of the young Filipinos who have been silent about social issues all this time, waiting for your time to change society and join a revolution, this is an invitation and an open call: Let us all be Dead Kids!

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