The deeper meaning of K-12

The deeper meaning of K-12

Willow Bowen, Reporter

Have you thought in depth about how corrupt our society is, or even some of the corruption taking place in the education system? “K-12,” a musical fantasy-horror film, written by Melanie Martinez, was released in 2019 as a movie featuring all of the songs from her new album. The movie follows the story of Crybaby, a girl with supernatural powers, that is going through the grades K-12. In the beginning of the movie she is shown to have absent parents before getting on the school bus. It is evident from the beginning that the kids at the Sleepaway School do not like Crybaby and see her as an outcast. During her stay, Crybaby starts to notice the school is hiding something sinister. Thankfully though, through her journey at Sleepaway School, she finds more people that acquire the same supernatural gift as her. The reason I chose “K-12” to review was because I think it’s a very underrated movie with great songs and deeper meanings about our society today. 

To begin, the cinematography was impressive and refreshing. The location chosen to film the movie was a building called the Eszterháza in Fertőd, Hungary. This estate alone created a beautiful cinematic setting that the characters could explore. One thing that stood out to me cinematically was the pink hue that is filtered over the scenes. The movie has a darker meaning but the light color contrasts it. Another moment with impressive cinematography is while Crybaby is in grade one. In this scene the characters Crybaby and Angelita are able to use their supernatural gift to enter a dreamlike world that is under the covers of their blankets.While panning through what looks like a blanket fort, there is still something dark and creepy behind it. Even though “K-12” is categorized as a horror film, the movie displays a very delicate scenery. One scene in particular is a long shot of Crybaby walking through a courtyard full of intricately cut bushes in various different shapes. Rarely do movies ever have scenery that contrasts with that actual meaning of the movie. Putting light, soft, and welcoming colors with a dark storyline shows an impressive juxtaposition. 

Continuing, special effects were used quite often, particularly to showcase the abilities of Crybaby and her friends. I was intrigued with how they chose to use special effects with only a budget of 5-6 million dollars. The first scene where the special effects stood out to me was in the scene “Wheels on The Bus,” where the bus driver is under the influence of alcohol while driving the kids to Sleepaway School. Nearing a bridge, the bus takes a swerve, sending it hurdling over the edge. The viewers get to see the bus sink under a deep trench of water that gives off a very eerie look. Luckily though, Crybaby and her friend Angelita use their supernatural gift to lift the bus out of the water and raise it into the clouds. The special effects don’t look realistic in the best way possible. They look dreamlike and otherworldly. The kids at Sleepaway School do not like Crybaby and see her as a freak. The hatred for Crybaby is only grown more when she is seen talking to her enemy Kelly’s crush, soon being approached by a punch. Immediately, she is able to overthrow her tormentor by extending her hair and putting Kelly in a choke hold, both of them levitating in the air. As violent as this seems, using your own hair to strangle someone is not something you see every day. This was scary, unique, but not too gory or sickening. Eventually the fight is broken up, though, and Kelly makes a recovery. 

Lastly, the deeper meaning behind the K-12 storyline is by far the most interesting part of the movie I wanted to talk about. The basic idea behind the movie is the flaws in society. The first song from the movie that showcases a controversial topic is “The Principle,” a song metaphorically about the 45th President Donald Trump. It talks about the topics of being under a leader that’s “money hungry” while  “shooting at the angels while claiming you’re a good guy.” These lyrics from the song have a deep meaning of hurting the innocent people in your country while still protesting you’re a good person. Another song with an important meaning I wanted to discuss was “Strawberry Shortcake.” The reason why I think this song is important to discuss is because women’s bodies are constantly being criticized by society, especially by men. Crybaby sings about how you have to make sure everything about your body’s perfect just to meet society’s standards even if it hurts. Eventually after you do think you’ve added enough to your appearance, you’re blamed for “attracting” men. I thought that the messages and deeper meanings behind the songs were really creative.

In the end, I thought that Melanie Martinez did a great job with her storyline and writing. “K-12” is the perfect mixture of quirky, dark, and fantasy. The only critics overall that I would give would be to make a clear path for the storyline and stay on topic. I don’t really see “K-12” as a movie but more of a work of art because of the open ideas and the messages hidden between the lines. I would not recommend this movie to anyone that is uncomfortable with sensitive topics because they are discussed frequently. Overall, I would rate “K-12” a 4 out of 5.