Pep Squad

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In a small Kansas town, the teens at the local high school are dying to become the next prom queen, in the literal sense. At least it would seem that way, thanks to the intense rivalry between the refined, snobbish Terra (Amy Kelly) and the outspoken, short tempered Cherry (Brooke Balderson). As their battle for the tiara continues, a young woman named Beth Violet (Jennifer Dreiling) is having some problems of her own. Her parents are getting a divorce, she’s late to class again, and now, the principal Lester Anderson (Eric Sherman) is all over her case. But when drastic action is taken and Anderson ends up dead, it is up to Beth, her friend Julie (Summer Makovkin), and her boyfriend Scott (Adrian Pujol) to cover up the evidence. That won’t be as simple as they think however, as Terra has knowledge of the events and in order to remain silent, she wants them to rig the prom queen contest, so she can be the winner. But the threesome decide instead to involve Cherry, whom they ask to murder Terra and close the book on the issue for good. Cherry agrees with some stipulations, but when the smoke clears and the crown is being lowered, whose head will it rest upon and will Beth be off the hook?

As part of York/Maverick’s Premiere Edition line, Pep Squad has been issued on DVD and in a solid overall package. This 1998 high school flick takes a darker approach the teen years, with mean spirited characters, acts of violence, and some outrageous situations. The film has a lot of humorous moments and if you’ve ever been in high school, chances are you’ll find at least a few situations you can relate to, I know I did. I was surprised to read some reviews that claimed Pep Squad was too dark, as it dark, but I didn’t think it pushed the envelope that much. The tone is nowhere close to serious either, so unless you’re one of those people who is offended by everything, you should be fine with Pep Squad. The writing is more than solid and offers some hilarious content, while the wardrobe work is also terrific, very good work indeed. The cast seems to be pulled from friends of the filmmakers, which lessens the level of the performances, but the slapstick nature of the movie negates the flaws there. I give Pep Squad a high recommendation, as it is a very enjoyable picture and has a solid, well priced release from York/Maverick.

Video: How does it look?

Pep Squad is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The image is solid, but you can tell this one had lower banks of resources, without a doubt. The print shows frequent grain and debris, which has to be due to lower grade film stock, as this film was made in 1998. Given the circumstances though, I’d say this treatment is more than solid and should please the viewers. The colors seem bold and in tune, flesh tones are natural in scope, and contrast is well balanced throughout. I wish this was anamorphic of course, but all things considered, this is a nice overall visual presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included stereo option seems passable, but I do think a surround track would have opened up the scope a little. The elements never seem confined per se, but you can tell they’d be more effective is allowed into the rear channels, I think. The music is clean, but needs to be more immersive, although sound effects seem in order here, for the most part. No flaws with dialogue either, as vocals are sharp and never hard to understand. Not a memorable track by any means, but it seems to handle the basics, which is acceptable in this case.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc contains the film’s trailer, as well as an audio commentary track with executive producer Clark Balderson, director of photography Rhet Bear, star Brooke Balderson, and writer/director Steve Balderson. This is one of those self congratulatory kind of sessions, which means it pretty much sucks, but some decent insight manages to sneak through. I wish Bear and Steve Balderson would have done a separate track in a more serious tone, but in any event, it is a lively, but overpromotional audio commentary session.

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