Strange things are afoot at the secret lab. Girls are locked away hoping for one thing, to be adopted by a nice family. That sounds nice and all, but as we watch the girls and their training, it appears something else might be going on. Hmm? I’m thinking the good Dr. Miro (Peter Outerbridge) and his assistant Miss Brixil (Sara Canning), may be up to no good. Uh oh!
Now, the press materials for “Level 16” have a number of references to the Hulu phenomenon, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The problem for me? This means absolutely nothing. Most of my experience with said Tale is walking by the TV when my wife is watching it. Yes, it looks interesting enough, but I’ve got enough shows, I don’t need to get sucked into another one. Me, I’ll do my best to review the film without the comparisons.
Back to the girls in the “school.”
Simply put, girls are locked up in this seemingly boarding school facility called The Vestalis Academy. From the beginning they are brainwashed, for no better terminology, learning to be perfect girls, or as Miss Brixil explains, perfect young women with perfect feminine virtues. They are kept from the outside world convinced it is deadly to breath the air, and God forbid their skin be exposed to sunlight. Precisely fed and given daily “vitamins,” the girls basically grow up taking classes how to be perfect, stand up straight, and be good girls so that one day a family will adopt them.
Enter Vivian (Katie Douglas).
Vivian has been at the school seemingly forever, hell-bent on being the perfect girl hoping to be adopted out. She finally makes it to Level 16, the final “grade” before a family can choose her. The odd thing, when she gets to Level 16 she is reunited with Sophia (Celina Martin), a former friend from years ago.
Sophia has figured something bad is going on, mostly because she stopped taking her “vitamins.” Now, even though Sophia and Vivian have a past, and Vivian no longer trusts Sophia, Vivian does listen to her ex-friend, goes one night without her vitamins, and discovers the school ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The challenge now? Well, they have to figure out how to escape. The problem? After all of these years they haven’t really learned anything. They don’t know how to spell, don’t understand technology, and the only TV they get is a mix of classes in being feminine and old movies picked out by the creepy Dr. Miro.
Yup, there is nothing good going on at the academy, somehow our girls have to figure out how to save the day, and along the way the discover the true nature of what they are being groomed for.
“Level 16” is a creepy film. We know from the start things aren’t what they seem, and eventually you will probably figure it out, but along the way enjoy the creepiness. Miss Brixil just seems mean, and Dr. Miro comes off like a doctor you wouldn’t want to be your doctor. Katie Douglas does a wonderful job at portraying a teen who wants to abide by the rules, yet once she figures out the rules aren’t really meant for her well-being, lets her survival skills kick in.
The most disturbing part of “Level 16” is that all of the girls do a great job at portraying how one might act if they have been brainwashed for who knows really how long. They believe what they are told because, well, it’s been engrained in their psyche for so long. They have nothing else to believe, only that someday the dream of a great family and getting out of the academy awaits them.
Enjoy the creepiness of Miss Brixil and Dr. Miro. Sure, some of the plot pushes things a bit far, but sometimes thrillers have to do this. It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Level 16.” Please don’t send your daughters to The Vestalis Academy!
That’s it for this one!! L8R!!