We finally have our very own Filipino Netflix Original in a film by acclaimed millennial director Mikhail Red— Dead Kids. I had the privilege of catching it on the big screen as it was Cinema One Originals 2019’s closing film. It is only but fitting that Red helmed the first ever Pinoy Netflix Original since his sophomore work Birdshot was also the first Filipino film to be acquired by the streaming giant. Coming from a family of filmmaking royalty, Mikhail is overwhelmed that through Netflix, Dead Kids will reach 158 million subscribers in 190 countries.
Speaking eagerly about the film, Mikhail shared, “I have always wanted to make a film about the complexities of my generation. I wanted to expose the entitlement and insecurities of a generation growing up in a country of extreme social disparity but cleverly package it as pop entertainment.”
An honest to goodness, eminently satisfying pop entertainment, the film turns out to be—not too shabby at all for a first ever Pinoy Netflix Original. It also shines the spotlight on an immensely talented ensemble composed of a good mix of up-and-coming, obscure, and current pop idols namely Sue Ramirez, Kelvin Miranda, Markus Paterson, Khalil Ramos, Gabby Padilla, Jan Silverio, and Vance Larena.
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Although it may be led by an ensemble cast, Kelvin Miranda as Mark carries the film through the first few acts as the original ‘Dead Kid'— a term coined by the upper clique to refer to a nobody. Sometimes called by his surname, Sta. Maria—just like how it is usually practiced in the campus—Miranda gives a stellar personification of the typical underprivileged scholar in a school ruled by the rich, bratty elite. A victim of circumstance, he succumbs to the pressure of agreeing to a plan that would cost him so much more than what he was hoping to gain. Miranda, is definitely one to watch out for as he exhibits so much depth in his characterization along with the ability to balance a brooding persona with the idealistic good boy from the province. +4
Chuck ‘F#%king’ Santos is played by Markus Paterson, another a-hole of a character which he seems to be typecast as. He recently appeared in Sakaling Maging Tayo with the same vibe. I actually don’t mind seeing him bring the same arrogance to the role since he does it so well. It also effectively justifies the scheming against his character in the film. +2
Khalil Ramos is a joy to watch as he plays Paolo, the most affluent among the bunch of conspirators and is another a-hole of a character but in a funnier, more amiable manner. Ramos seems like he had the time of his life, breathing life to his character and it certainly shows. This is the best I’ve seen of him on screen. +3
Sue Ramirez plays Janina, the apple of Sta. Maria’s eye. Though Ramirez plays the cliche rich girl who falls for the underdog, she brings an intensity to her character enough to make a mark despite her limited screen time. +2
Just like Kelvin Miranda, Gabby Padilla is another revelation in this film. Playing another cliche of a character, Yssa, Paolo’s girlfriend, Padilla gives us a feisty ‘mean girl’ that compliments Paolo’s rambunctious character. She also carries the climax of the film’s ‘operation’ with that tense yet hilarious ‘bag scene’, that you just have to watch out for. +3
And yet another breakthrough performance is by Vance Larena who plays Blanco, son of a policeman under Chuck’s dad’s payroll. He masterminds the ‘operation’ and his character carries the depth and social relevance of the film. He brings an effortless fervor to his character but also gives it a vulnerability at the payoff in the end. Here’s another up and coming actor to look out for. +4
It is undeniably another well-crafted film from Mikhail Red and is actually my favourite of all his films so far. With what he voiced out about how he wanted the film to be, I believe he successfully executed on film. It still may not be altogether perfect but the end product is something we can all be proud of as Pinoys in the global digital platform. +3
With a total of 21 points and just the right mix of relevance, provocation, and fun, Dead Kids dishes out pop culture of the up and coming generation Z. Paced just about right, as well, it is sure to entertain and leave viewers with something to ponder on after its explosive conclusion. After all, this is what cinema ought to be. Dead Kids streams this December.
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Photos courtesy of Netflix