Released: January 15, 2021
High School Musical meets Pop Punk School Musical.
That’s how I’d sum up the latest venture by Colson Baker AKA Machine Gun Kelly. Announced towards the end of last year, Downfalls High presents to us a visual representation of Kelly’s musical transition into pop punk world, which was introduced to us last September with Tickets To My Downfall (our review here). The album cured us of boredom from COVID-19 and gave us some of the best musical collabs of the year, from ‘My Ex’s Best Friend’ to ‘Forget Me Too’, but does its visual counterpart live up to the hype? To be honest, you’ll have to find out for yourself, but without completely spoiling it, here’s a quick lowdown…
Narrated and directed by MGK, Travis Barker alongside friend and fellow musician Mod Sun, Downfalls High opens with the main protagonist, Fenix James (played by Chase Hudson) in a hospital ward with a bandage wrapped around his head. Immediately, you’re going to think, “Oh shit, it’s about to get dark…” Well, I’m not here to give you a play-by-play, but I can give you the general premise. The cameras cut to Fenix several months earlier, where we’re introduced to him as your typical high school emo kid who spends his time at school sitting on the football stands, minding everyone’s business but his own. Until one day, a cute blonde girl by the name of Scarlett (played by Sydney Sweeney) is playing Spin the Bottle (or Spin the Pen — is that what today’s highschoolers do these days?) with her two cliche schoolgirl friends, looks at Fenix and asks, “Hey! What are you doing up there?” to which he mundanely replies, “I don’t know…sitting.”
Much to her friends’ disgust, Scarlett is definitely perplexed by Fenix and continues to pursue this black-haired, strange kid on the bleachers. Their teenage love story is soundtracked by songs off of the album, no surprises there, with the pair’s adventures going back-and-forth with MGK performing alongside Travis Barker’s iconic drumming. Like an early 2000s pop punk music video, if you ask me.
Following the scene featuring the now infamous pop punk anthem ‘Forget Me Too’ — and much to everyone’s disappointment, Halsey does not actually appear in the film — things turn a little dark and intense for a cheesy teen flick (Disney definitely would not have approved this storyline!). In an attempt to fix his heartbreak, Fenix decides to start a band with his friends, with the drummer being played by — you guessed it, Barker’s own flesh and spawn, Landon Barker, who in the film “drums better than Travis Barker.” LOL.
But yes — Travis appears everywhere here as he does. And the MGK posse doesn’t end there. The film also features a star-studded lineup of MGK’s closest friends, including Iann Dior, Trippie Redd, Blackbear, and our latest favourite rock star, Mod Sun. This really is a one of a kind musical experience, where a bunch of musicians and friends came together to lead the incredibly cliche, cheesy storyline. With very minimal acting involved in Downfalls High, the film’s soundtrack definitely was the highlight, and I was somewhat surprised to hear some of the deluxe tracks making an appearance. I fully appreciate that the songs did not appear in order of the album tracklisting either. Kinda made it way more fun to watch and sing along to.
While the premise of the film is cheesy as fuck, it does do what no teenage high school film has done since the early 2000s, and that’s give us a crackin’ movie soundtrack to bop along to. So does Downfalls High live up to the hype? Well, why don’t you give it a go and see for yourself?
Review by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Watch Downfalls High below