How Scary Is 'Before I Fall'? That Depends On What You Thought Of High School
Open Road Films

The new movie Before I Fall, based off the popular young adult book of the same name by Lauren Oliver, is a unique take on teen drama. The main character, Sam, is a high school student in a clique that torments unpopular girls, and her life is going great until she and her friends leave a party and are involved in a deadly car accident. Yet when Sam wakes up the next morning, she finds that it's actually the day of the accident all over again, and so she has to figure out what's going on and why she's stuck reliving that terrible day. The movie has brought comparisons to Groundhog Day and Mean Girls, and kind of seems to be a fusion of them both. But it looks to be a lot darker, and how scary Before I Fall is separates it from any of the films in its genre.

As the trailer shows, the vibe of Before I Fall is definitely more somber and intense than the sharp, funny satire of Mean Girls or Groundhog Day. The movie is based off of a young adult novel, and any of us that have read a lot of contemporary YA realism novels set in high schools will recognize and be familiar with the tone. A lot of times those books — Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now, and most of John Green's works, such as The Fault in Our Stars, immediately come to mind for me — deal with serious issues of like teen drinking, bullying, sexual assault, car accidents, and illness. Before I Fall definitely falls into that category of stories that tackle serious moral issues in the lives of teenagers, and viewers can expect a socially aware take on high school that is a lot darker, and more realistic, than a lighthearted teen romantic comedy or quirky adventure.

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The scene that could potentially be the scariest, which is shown partially in the trailer, is the car accident itself, which is described in detail in the original book. Many of us know people who have died in car accidents, often during high school years when teenagers are newer drivers and might make make reckless decisions. If reliving those memories is difficult or scary for you, you might want to steer clear of Before I Fall, as the film doesn't seem to be interested in shying away from harsh depictions of drinking and driving, and viewers have to rewatch the events of the accident several times.

But overall, how scary you find Before I Fall might come down to how scary you find high school in general. There are a lot of elements of bullying, difficult social dynamics, and exclusion in the movie, and the film deals with the harmful results of those actions very realistically. So, if it's painful to remember your time in high school because of difficult experiences with bullying or class dynamics, you might be more scared of the events in Before I Fall than other viewers.

Yet it's important to note that the film, while dark and intense, is optimistic about the potential for people to learn and help others, and it's smart and engaging in the way that it explores high school; it's not a slog or an exercise in mindless tragedy at all. Scary is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but despite a few elements, Before I Fall is more of a serious, emotional look at high school than a heart-pounding thriller.