The sinister Pretty Little Liars reboot knows that the scariest place in high school is high school

The sinister Pretty Little Liars reboot knows that the scariest place in high school is high school

Malia Pyles, Zaria, Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Maia Reficco and Alex Aiono in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Barbara Nitke/HBO Max)

Malia Pyles, Zaria, Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Maia Reficco and Alex Aiono in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Barbara Nitke/HBO Max)

Destroying the school gym — or at least trying to — is something of a motive when it comes to the darkest teen movies. Kristy Swanson burns down her school gym to wipe out vampires in the OG version of Buffy the vampire slayer. in the heather, Christian Slater tries to blow it up in the middle of a pep talk. The gym is also where the titular Carrie telekinetically took revenge on the classmates who humiliated her, killing them all in a massive fire. The idea of ​​a school gymnasium as a hotbed of violence isn’t new, but it says a lot about the nature of the show Pretty little liars: original sin want to be

original sin — which streams on HBO Max in the US — ultimately has more in common with teen slasher films than the Lucy Hale original Pretty little liars, about a group of friends who break up when their queen bee goes missing. This version of ABC Family (now called Freeform) was only completed five years ago, so it’s possible you can still hear the inappropriately chirped theme song – “Got a secret, can you keep it?” – playing in your head. The new Pretty little liars – out Riverdale‘s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring of The chilling adventures of Sabrina – begins with a slowed down, discordant remix of the track to announce its sinister identity.

This series focuses on five high school girls – the pregnant Imogen (Bailee Madison), the film geek Tabby (Chandler Kinney), the rebellious Noa (Maia Reficco), the quiet mouse (Malia Pyles) and the prima ballerina Faran (Zaria), the band together to take Down Karen (Mallory Bechtel), a bully with all the baggage that particular first name implies. Little do they know that their own mothers — who grew up in the same small town — are ambiguously bound by a teenage suicide that took place when they were their daughters’ ages. In the early episodes of the season, these two timelines are connected by the arrival of a masked stranger out for revenge.

In the three-hour block that encompasses the show’s unconventional “series premiere,” several scenes take place in that oddly underattended holding pen known as detention. in the original sinAs it was in my own high school, detention is a place for the kids who get into trouble to complain and conspire. By removing most of the adults from the picture — save for a clumsy principal and a terrible ballet mistress — it’s implied that it’s the students themselves who are making high school hell for each other.

In fact, the show takes place almost exclusively in those parts of the school grounds where teachers are in short supply: the filthy girls’ bathrooms, the crowded cafeteria, the hallways adorned with Spirit Week streamers. Unlikely this seedy suburban high school even has a ballet studio. Really, what’s more menacing than tutus and mirrors?

The series saves its most gruesome scenes of inter-student violence for the gym — a cavernous void seemingly designed to minimize oversight. The stands. the rafters. The shady corners where the wrestling mats have rolled up. It’s a miracle that one of us survived. Any girl can tell you that the school gym is the scene of unspeakable horrors. The humiliation of a room full of teenagers at different stages of puberty being forced to change in the same room. The fear of being the last one standing when the teams are chosen. Exhibited cheerleaders being judged by fellow students at pep rallies. And that’s just school-authorized torture!

But nothing illustrates the dangers of a high school gymnasium like turning it into a dance hall with balloons and disco lights. Think of the Spring Festival in Jennifer’s bodyor prom with Jamie Lee Curtis. In which PLL Reboot, at a dance, Karen plans to pour pig’s blood on Imogen, inspired by the bullies within carrie. She’s still crawling around in the rafters when someone pressures her into an untimely death that ends up being mistaken for another suicide.

Zaria in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max)

Zaria in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max)

It’s always horrifying to watch a child die on TV. original sinThe intentionally dusty sheen of has the humane effect of emphasizing its comic-like quality. That didn’t happen; These horrible things are not real. Except that the gym that’s where it all goes will be eerily familiar to almost anyone watching. That includes everyone from the kid who was picked first to the girl who tested the limits of how often she can use period cramps as an excuse for not attending (yes, it’s me). If high school itself was a TV villain, the gym would be its black, unbridled heart.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is now streaming on HBO Max

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