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Level 16, obedience won’t save you




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Level 16, obedience won’t save you
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Level 16 is the last step before the girls in the boarding school where they have lived all their lives graduate to placements with good families. This independent Canadian drama is a mix of science fiction and horror. Danishka Esterhazy wrote and directed the drama, which can be seen on Netflix.

Level 16 takes place in the dim hallways and rooms of a building that looks and feels like a prison.

Level 16, obedience won’t save you
Eyes down!

Miss Brixil (Sara Canning) trains the girl to be clean, obedient, submissive and good so that one day a wonderful family will adopt them. They should take their vitamins daily and sleep when prompted. Their lives are disciplined and repetitive. They watch movies about feminine virtues and don’t learn to read or do anything useful.

Any girl who disobeys will be brought down to be punished. These girls are no longer seen.

I’m sure any decent sci-fi aficionado will realize that this situation is not what it seems. But the girls don’t see that. They drink the Kool Aid. They are sheepish followers of a demanding and crazy authority figure – they never doubt the message, they never doubt.

Except Sophia (Celina Martin) and Vivien (Katie Douglas). Sophia stopped taking the? vitamins years ago and sees many things that the others do not. She persuades Vivien to stop taking the pills too. Soon, the two try to find a way to get away.

Peter Outerbridge at level 16
Let me give you a vaccine with this giant syringe that looks like it came from Dr. Strangelove is coming

Life in Level 16 is a little different for the girls. They take different vitamins. They see Dr. Miro (Peter Outerbridge) for injections and treatments. Sophia and Vivien stay awake during sleep because they don’t take their vitamins. They see what happens to the sleeping girls. They discover the truth about what happens to the girls who graduate.

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Katie Douglas in level 16
I’m ruining my face! So there! (Uhm, shouldn’t those cuts be bleeding?)

Vivien and Sophia’s attempt to escape is dangerous and heightens the tension in this already tense drama.

This movie was limited by its low budget, but it managed to be compelling. The reveal at the end wasn’t entirely surprising, nor were the final moments. Yet the thematic material on the value placed on girls was devastating. The film flatly condemned the patriarchal standards of beauty that men demand of women.

I’ve read numerous comments stating that another sci-fi movie has already told this story in a better way. The resemblance to other dystopian stories didn’t bother me. (The movie reminded me the most of Don’t ever let me go.) It stands on its own merits as an original that dystopian sci-fi buffs will be interested in.

Poster for level 16

Here’s a look at the trailer.

If you watch this movie, share what you thought in the comments below.

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