There must be a market for “rich kids with problems” movies out there because people keep making them. Sometimes they’re successful, based on already well-written novels or movies, like “Less Than Zero” or “Cruel Intentions,” but other times they’re a chore to sit through, like last year’s “Twelve.” Trying to combine the best parts of the above and evoking imagery from other movies of its ilk, “Wasted on the Young” never finds its footing; instead feeling like a muddled mess of cut and paste screenwriting.
Darren (Oliver Ackland), through his mother’s marriage, becomes the step brother to Zack (Alex Russell), a popular high school student who gets all the girls, despite both of them being on the same swim team. Darren has a crush on Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), much to the chagrin of the other students; the nerdy kid can never have a shot at the beautiful, popular girls. While the parents are absent as ever, Zack decides to throw a rager for his fellow high school students. As booming techno music thumps throughout the house, Darren watches the happenings on the home security system, holed up in his room, while downstairs things take a turn for the ugly sending Xandrie and Darren down a dark path out of their control.
If it sounds all generic, that’s because it is. From the use of technology as a tool for exacting revenge to the idea of having a girl go missing only to return days later, mentally scarred, it is all something that has been done before. Not to say that a patchwork script cannot work, but when throwing so many darts at a plot board it’s easy to lose sight of the end game. Here, the film feels too underdeveloped and too flat, never giving the cast time to develop their characters and for any emotional impact to sink in. We certainly know things take a turn for the dark in the basement that one night, but without the details, we’re left without any emotional connection, beyond the superficial, to these teenagers. Usually less is more, but in this case, a bit of shocking imagery could go a long way.
Ackland does the best with what he is given; showing his compassion and developing affection for beautiful Xandrie, but himself being too good looking to be believable as the outcast. Alex Russell‘s Zack is unfortunately given a role so one dimensional he never has any time to rise above his character’s evil façade. Adelaide Clemens, the shining star of the cast, is the only character given any depth to work with. As beautiful as a young Michelle Williams, her character is one of the few that undergoes any transformation and does so with such competence that I look forward to seeing her in the next “Silent Hill” and “Max Mad” sequels.
“Wasted on the Young” by first time director Ben C. Lucas is an unfortunately dull amalgamation of better written scripts. It may have appeal to the uninitiated but for those seeking the desperate tales of the rich and f****d up there are far better choices available.