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Review: Mikhail Red's Netflix original 'Dead Kids' is a welcoming heist thriller-high school drama hybrid

dead kids netflix mikhail red movie review

"Dead Kids" is loosely based on a kidnapping incident that happened in 2018, wherein students from Colegio de San Juan de Letran and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde were arrested for abducting a fellow student from Letran in exchange for ransom.

In the film, high schooler Mark (Kelvin Miranda) was recruited by his schoolmates Charles (Vance Larena), Paolo (Khalil Ramos), and Gideon (Jan Silverio) to kidnap Chuck (Markus Paterson), the top jock from their school. Chuck is the son of a drug lord (Ku Aquino), making him the perfect target for quick cash. Things go as orchestrated until an unexpected mishap arrives for the young group. 

The Mikhail Red-directed film premiered as the closing film of Cinema One Originals 2019, fueled by the noise of it being the first Netflix original film by the Philippines. There's excitement, a celebration filled by cheers when the global streaming platform's logo emerges before the film as if a major mark has been finally filled.


dead kids netflix mikhail red movie review

Red has repeatedly said in interviews that "Dead Kids" is a statement about today's generation eclipsed by the Philippine drug war. In his previous films "Neomanila" and "Birdshot," the juvenile protagonists are challenged by embracing the injustices of people higher than them. I'd like to think the film is about a group of teenagers trying to prove a point to the honchos while dealing with their naivety.

Red has grown to become a more competent director for his fourth feature. There is confidence in his inclination for tension and occasional humor that feels more justified and earned than his earlier outings.


dead kids netflix mikhail red movie review

But the film is not without its commendable ensemble. Vance Larena, Khalil Ramos, and especially Kelvin Miranda are superb and even more effective together. I was at most impressed with Miranda, for me the best discovery here.

Although it would have benefited more with stronger supporting characters,  "Dead Kids" is a fun watch. Genre hybrids like this, a heist thriller by way of high school drama, don't come that often for Filipino films. It's a concoction that I would always welcome, especially for one that aims to tell something worthwhile while staying loyal to its form. 

"Dead Kids" is now streaming globally on Netflix.

Photo credits: Globe Studios and Netflix

dead kids netflix mikhail red movie poster

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