Starring: Brinke Stevens, Debra Lamb, Julie Anne Prescott
While the common set-up of campus slasher movies is that it deals with teenagers getting hunted down by a loon, producer, director and writer Troy Escamilla’s Teacher Shortage flips this trope around to have teachers getting the stabbing end this time.
Ryan Billings (Chris Jehnert), the young new addition to Prescott High School's English department, sees himself tagged along to a mandatory team building weekend of booze, bitter retirement talk and table bingo with his fellow teachers. Unbeknowst to every one of them, someone in a cloak and devil mask is making slim pickings out of the mentors and it isn't too long before only a handful of them are left to fend for themselves. Could this, perhaps, has anything to do with a bullying incident ten years ago that led to a tragic end?
Well, yes. Yes it does.
Albeit the gimmick of focusing the bodycount carnage unto the teaching staff, Teacher Shortage still runs a very basic slasher plot of people gathering at a location for insert reason here, only to be carnally bumped off by a masked maniac with an obvious beef with either one or all of them. This makes the plot mostly predictable and some scenes tedious to sit through, especially since the acting can be a bit stiff (a lot of sitting and talking here, folks) and, due to the movie's crowdfunded budget, audio quality is lacking at times. Though, the inclusion of a gay sub-plot and a few jabs at the state of modern American school system do add a small layer of thought and drama that works well enough for a low budget horror movie.
On a stylistic sense, Teacher Shortage isn't all that bad either as it does boast a decently creepy looking killer, as well as a good set of bloody eye-candy murders lensed in Italian giallo-inspired red tint. The short end of the stick, however, is that there are moments where the color gets a little intense in its saturation, so much so that it can be arduous to look at, and the editing done for some gets a bit uneven. Still, there are a couple of fun sequences here that showcase the director's well-maneuvering eye on stalk-and-stab scenes, particularly the first murder of a teacher set in a nearly empty school building and the climactic bar murders.
The last act could have been better, though; we're basically treated to an uninspired reveal and an exposition monologue as to why they're killing off teachers, while the remaining living character just sits bounded, mostly sobbing. It goes long enough that by the time we get to see a fight, it wasn't too far into the run before it simply ends the moment our killer got dispatched brutally. Not particularly all too exciting, but it wrapped all things up fairly and it certainly could have done so much worse.
Despite all its shortcomings, Teacher Shortage is still a fair watch if you like your indie slashers simple yet doable, with the right amount of carnage and commentary. Predictable and clunky it may be, its ambitiousness crafts a rather enjoyable effort that earns a worthwhile watch.
1 female had her throat cut with a mirror shard
1 female stabbed through the mouth with a sharpened ruler
1 female stabbed to death with a pair of scissors
1 male stabbed through the back with a machete
1 female stabbed through the temple with a screwdriver, exits to an eye
1 female had her throat slashed
1 female ran through the back with a pitchfork
1 female stabbed in the eye with a skewer, knifed on the gut
1 male hacked on the face with a meat cleaver
1 male stabbed in the face with a shovel