For fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and anyone else into dystopian societies that are seriously screwed up by any standards, the new flick Level 16 aims to tap into that zeitgeist.
The film is director Danishka Esterhazy’s look into a creepy boarding school where girls are basically raised into Stepford wives (you only have to look at the headmistress to gather that much). If this robotic conditioning seems like enough to turn them to plastic, isn’t as simple as standing up straight and just putting on a submissive mask.
"The vices and virtues are supposed to be something that (the Academy's director) Dr. Miro wrote up to keep the girls docile, to encourage them to embrace conformity," Esterhazy told SYFY Fangrrls back at Fantastic Fest in October. "And it's not that far from things we do teach girls."
Check out the trailer here:
The young women in the film have what a “clean girl” is constantly drilled into their impressionable minds as they pass Level 15 at the Vestalis academy. Whatever that is must already be the penultimate circle of hell judging by how they reply to everything in perfect unison and bow their heads to the headmistress, whose perfectly coiffed head and red lips just ooze evil.
This sounds more like prison than anything, with a remote semblance of high school.
As if that weren't creepy enough, there are secrets hidden in the shadows of the academy. When Vivien reunites with former traitor and ex-friend Sophia, they literally risk their lives by going on an undercover search for the reason behind the torture they must endure.
“Women [in oppressive societal structures] take these vows that they will embrace these roles of the man is the leader and the woman is submissive,” said Esterhazy, who researched the Good Wife Movement, Victorian standards for women’s behavior, and other relevant historical and sociological topics for this film. “It just terrifies me completely."
Level 16 premieres in select theaters and VOD March 1.