School Tales the Series Season 1 Review – Thai horror anthology is frightfully tame

Season 1

Episode Guide

7AM -| Review Score – 2/5
Vengeful Spell -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Beautiful -| Review Score – 2.5/5
The Book of Corpses -| Review Score – 3/5
Headless Teacher -| Review Score – 2/5
Lunch -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Curse -| Review Score – 2.5/5
A Walk in School -| Review Score – 3/5


“Someone once said that life is like the hands of a clock. They always come back to the same spot, repeating the same movements over and over.”

Episode 1 of Netflix’s Thai horror anthology School Tales the Series sets the stage with a trademark, vaguely ominous introductory statement. It has a kind of meta significance, signalling the tendency for each episode to recycle stories with different students, preaching the same sentiments via the medium of horror, “repeating the same movements over and over.”

If it isn’t on students being punished for bullying (“7AM,” “Curse”), the focus of the series is on students being punished for chasing after beauty (“Beautiful”), or seeking clout (“Lunch”), or being generally catty (“Vengeful Spell”).

Not a single instalment breaks away from–what’s admittedly standard horror fodder–the “crime”/punishment narrative. “Headless Teacher” comes the closest, being the only episode in which it’s not the students who are held to task–but it’s also the least adept at weaving in genuine elements of horror into its narrative, resulting in a goofy story whose originality comes at the cost of being tonally inconsistent.

Other stories creatively utilize central themes. In “Beautiful,” director Songsak Mongkolthong weaves a scathing indictment of the beauty industry into its unnerving tale of a hungry flesh spirit. And, one of the strongest instalments (and from the same director), “Lunch” criticizes the ways in which social media sways people to misinformed opinions.

In most episodes, there’s more going on than straightforward scares, and social criticisms manage to keep the work marginally more engaging. But, in a collective mistake, the creators of each episode fail to mine material for relevant school happenings beyond these trite explorations. Bullying and social media are easy targets. Yet, from the looks of School Tales the Series, it would seem they offer full summations of the teenage experience.

An anthology series like this could have benefitted from more collaboration between writers and directors. At the most–for each to take on unique individual elements and themes, for a fuller exploration of what school horror tales can look like. At the least–to avoid overusing the same clichés.

What we get, rather, is a horror anthology not scary, nor thematically cohesive, nor intelligent enough to make School Tales the Series truly memorable.

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  • Verdict - 4.5/10

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