The ghost of a girl must uncover the mystery surrounding her own death while trapped at the place in which she died, her high school!
Spoiler Level: Mild
Maddie Nears (Peyton List) has been murdered but in the first episode, no one knows it, she is just missing. Well, I take that back, Maddie knows it, and her spirit is roaming the halls of the school, along with the other ghosts of children and teachers that have died on campus. Unlike the other ghosts in the school, Maddie doesn’t remember how she died or who killed her, and her mission is to uncover her missing memories and discover the truth about her death. Her spirit guide is Charley (Nick Pugliese), a gay teen who died in the 90s after having an allergic reaction to peanut oil. Also trying to help her is Wally Clark (Milo Manheim), who was killed during a football game his senior year. Maddie was somewhat of a loner with just three close friends. Nicole (Kiara Pichardo), her boyfriend Xavier (Spencer MacPherson) and her long-time best friend Simon Elroy (Kristian Flores) who is having the hardest time with Maddie’s disappearance. The place of the crime seems to have been the creep boiler room, but how can she solve the mystery when she cannot interact with the real world and no one can hear or see her…or can they?
School Spirits was created by Megan and Nate Trinrud and premiered, March 9, 2023 on the Paramount+ streaming service. The series is adapted from the team’s forthcoming graphic novel of the same name. The plot is pretty standard and isn’t anything we haven’t seen, ghost needs to find the truth of their murder and along the way learn some life…or “after-life” lessons. But in just watching the first episode, a few things set this show apart. The first is the writing, with a mixture of quirky dark comedy and soulful emotional dialogue. This is heightened by the wonderful acting headed up by Peyton List, who does a great job as the heroine who is uncovering the truth and with it a bunch of buried secrets. She is warned several times throughout that she may not like the answer to her questions and the truth can be very painful. Nick Pugliese’s Charley is appropriately awkward for a gay teen in the 90s, but also remarkably comfortable with who he is. Kristian Flores has a wonderfully touching scene with a teacher where he extolls the strengths of Maddie and how he doesn’t know how he will survive high school without her. Even with the plot being nothing new, the story is quite intriguing with a lot of suspects and a few twists and turns just in the first episode. The production opted to use very little special effects (if any), so there aren’t any ghostly auras, the characters aren’t translucent, and no one walks through them. This adds a feeling of solidity and realism to what is happening to these characters.
I really enjoyed the first episode and am curious to see where this all leads. Other critics’ opinions have been mixed. Many believe that the show does not live up to its potential, but that the excellent performance of Peyton List and the rest of the cast, do make this a solid watch. Variety wrote, “Without losing sight of the sorrow of Maddie’s story, School Spirits manages to be surprisingly sparky and fun—proof positive that there are new stories to tell about the institution no one would ever want to be stuck in for their entire afterlife”, but The Hollywood Reporter said, “Sometimes the familiar trappings of the high-school genre can open the door for a show to do wilder and more inventive things than more allegedly mature shows. School Spirits, unfortunately, takes no such liberties.”. You will need to watch and decide for yourself.
The first season is seven episodes long and Paramount+ released the first 3 episodes on March 9th, and then a single episode each week after that, with the season finale on April 6th, 2023. (So you still have time to binge watch the first 6 episodes before tomorrow)
School Spirits: The Eternity of High School
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 7/107/10
- Production - 7/107/10
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