A graduate project by students at Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic University, “Secondary High” earns high marks for enterprise and technical polish, if just a C+ for content. Pic starts out promisingly as an absurdist high school comedy, then hits midsection slump before somewhat rallying in last third. Gay and youth-oriented fests might want to take a look.
Biggest problem is organizational: Nothing cues viewers to expect three separate, consecutive stories (with different helmer-scenarists and lensers, though no notable stylistic shifts) rather than an interwoven ensemble piece. Thus it’s bewildering when focus abruptly shifts — especially since first story is by far the most entertaining. Butchteen Heidi (Alyson Richards) moves in with a crazy aunt and plus-sized cousin Chet (Bubba). (There’s also a vampire sister hiding in the basement.) This section’s surreal humor is sorely missed when emphasis turns to dull saga of classmate Theodora’s (Catherine Bertin) crush on teacher Mr. Coop (Daniel Levesque). Last half-hour shifts to aspiring all-girl punk band Six Healthy Fists, with fairly funny climax as they play at Heidi and Chet’s house party. Some amusing perfs and confident tech package belie pic’s origin.