by H. Thomas
**** 4 Stars
‘Fans have been awaiting this film for almost 4 years and it did not disappoint in being filled with representation for all groups of people, and of course the relatability juxtaposed with slight madness that draws people to Melanie Martinez’s work.’
Director: Melanie Martinez
Cast: Melanie Martinez, Emma Harvey, Maggie Budzyna, Zión Moreno
Created to accompany Melanie Martinez’s second album of the same name, K-12 follows the story of Martinez’s pre-established character Cry Baby as she arrives at a sleep-away school with questionable morals. Along with her friend Angelita (Emma Harvey, also known by her stage name Elita), she navigates a dangerous bus ride to school and the troubles of jealousy from popular student Kelly (Maggie Budzyna). Luckily for Cry Baby and Angelita, they are not regular students – they have been given the power to control whatever they need, which is represented by their eyes turning black. After a nasty attack by Kelly she learns that the Principal of the school is forcing medication on students for control. As well as touching on traditional school issues, such as the gender inequality of dress codes, and harassment, as well as fickle friends who only want company at lunchtime, Martinez also addresses deeper, more sinister concerns that happen less often but still are true to real life, such as the troubles of Fleur (Zión Moreno), a character with an eating disorder, and Angelita’s manipulation by a teacher. On top of this, she mentions the struggles of her own life disguised in the songs and scenes, such as the constant pressure on her to create music and make money. In the end, the cruel staff of the school, including the Principal himself, get justice as Cry Baby and her friends use their powers to take other students out from the mind controlled state and destroy K-12 forever.
As a fan of Melanie Martinez, this film is directed beautifully – her pastel aesthetic and sweet-sounding songs, with a darker message, are reflected perfectly throughout. Each scene is incredibly important and has so many messages that people of a school age need to hear, combined with an element of magic that makes this not your ordinary school film. In particular, Maggie Budzyna plays Kelly brilliantly as to reflect the school bully that many children will have known during their school years. Fans have been awaiting this film for almost 4 years and it did not disappoint in being filled with representation for all groups of people, and of course the relatability juxtaposed with slight madness that draws people to Melanie Martinez’s work. However, as she felt pressure to release this film as soon as possible, there are a few things that could have been worked on – some acting isn’t as passionate and natural as it should have been, indicating some did not get the time to get into their characters, and some scenes seem slightly out of place and random, which can give the impression of multiple music videos stitched together as opposed to a film. However, overall this film is created for Martinez’s fans in the most fantastic way and is something I would recommend to anyone who has ever enjoyed her music.
K-12 is currently available on Prime Video and was rated 15 by the BBFC.