In a time following the recent tragedy at Parkland, amidst a loud push for gun reform in the U.S., no film is more heavy-hitting than one which takes an up-close look at a school shooter. Written and directed by Chad Scheifele, Natural Selection explores the fictional events leading up to an attempted high-school shooting.
The story centers on Tyler (Mason Dye), a shy, religious teen new in town who befriends the resident rebel with a cause Indrid (Ryan Munzert). It’s obvious to all those but Tyler that his new friend is a bad influence. From the get-go, Indrid spins a web of manipulation which he tries to trap Tyler. We see him do his utmost to isolate Tyler from the other people in his life, with the intent to bring the misunderstood boy into his premeditated plan of attack. A plot like this has promise but is of course dependant on the strength of the production. Unfortunately, this is where Natural Selection falls short.
“…the fictional events leading up to an attempted high-school shooting.”
One of the key issues with this movie is the direction. All 120 minutes feels downright unnatural. The grey, innocuous setting only succeeds in giving the film a very Twilight-esque background, filling it with washed out tones. Its exaggerated cinematic angles are a mixed bag. The script manages to be both too dull and too sensationalized. Natural Selection’s only saving grace is its young cast. Munzert’s dark tortured take on Indrid is easily one of the main reasons to watch through to the end. Regrettably, that’s not saying much, as he is one of the few characters that demonstrates any level of complexity