Fluffy, not stuffy. That’s what summer programming is traditionally about and, with that in mind, the producers of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” offer up “Class Warfare,” a slickly produced teen thriller about pretty rich people who are willing do anything to stay rich. On a menu, the pic would be listed under guilty pleasures.
A bevy of familiar TV teen faces star in this cautionary tale of greed and retribution that is relatively devoid of sex and gratuitous violence. Slightly more cerebral than a slasher flick, but not quite as clever as “Cruel Intentions,” “Class Warfare” is most definitely summer camp.
The devious Kristen (Lindsey J. McKeon) is very attached to the affluent lifestyle she’s grown up with. She is used to getting her way, whether it’s with her dolt of a boyfriend, Jason (Wade Carpenter), or with hapless teachers who accommodate her whims when threatened with blackmail. It’s senior year, and Kristen and Jason are looking forward to an all-but-assured acceptance to an Ivy League school. But their plans for the high life are sidelined when their parents, in business together, suddenly go belly up. Kristen frets that she may have to attend a, gasp, state school.
The two decide not to reveal their newfound poverty for fear of being ostracized and accept an invitation for a getaway weekend at the fabulous vacation home of their friend Graham (Dave McGowan). Joining the trip on a lark is Richard Ashbury (Robin Dunne), the earnest scholarship student and self-declared socialist who is seemingly impervious to Kristen’s charms. Over the weekend, as Kristen worries that her future will be devoid of Evian and caviar, Richard discovers that he has the winning lottery ticket –setting Kristen into overdrive as she schemes to get the money and return herself to her proper monetary status, even if it means murder.
The cast, including former “Saved by the Bell” alumni McKeon and the appealing Dunne, has a nice symmetry. Although the story is ultimately preposterous, director Richard Shepard resists the temptation to speed things along for action and gore and, for the first half at least, offers an interesting psychological drama.
Had writer George Finch followed through with such a promising start, the result could have been something akin to a teenage version of “Deathtrap.”
The pic features impressive production values, with Ron Orieux providing slick visuals and panoramic scenery. Production designer Jillian Scott accurately captures the pristine setting of elite society while special effects coordinator Gary Minielly orchestrates an explosive grand finale.