Unfortunately falling between two stools that may well leave both hardened horror fans wanting something stronger and unwary teens wondering just what the hell they're watching, Girls Against Boys is grim stuff given a glossy coating.
Danielle Panabaker plays Shae, a young girl having a bit of a rough weekend. Instead of completely separating from his wife and moving forward with their relationship, her married lover (Andrew Howard) has decided that he needs to make a go of his marriage. Shae ends up working her bar shift, getting more and more annoyed with everyone around her and then being befriended by Lulu (Nicole LaLiberte). Lulu and Shae head out, get very drunk, meet some lads and get more drunk, flirt and then head home. Well, that's the plan. It's not long until some bad things happen and Lulu is leading Shae on a quest for revenge. Lulu seems to have an agenda, but that suits Shae just fine while her judgment is clouded by pain and anger.
From the title itself to the early scenes of the movie, this feels very much like it's going to be a standard teen drama. Okay, there's actually some darkness shown in the very first moments as Lulu starts to send a restrained male into a minor panic, but that's put on the back burner as viewers are introduced to Shae and accompany her through some all-too-familiar moments. Let's face it, the movie could turn into Dirty Dancing at any time during the first 15 minutes or so. And with a title like Girls And Boys you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be about a battle of the sexes in which the girls prove just how much better they are than the men in their lives.
Funnily enough, the film IS about that. But it also takes a serious tangent to move into a decent revenge flick, before then using the third act to wrap things up with an entertainingly twisted bit of "psycho teen" activity. Writer-director Austin Chick keeps everything moving just fine, but he's held back slightly by the demographic that the movie is being aimed at. The core elements of the movie are harsh and nasty, but putting those in place in a movie for teens ensures that nothing onscreen ever pushes things TOO far.
Danielle Panabaker isn't an actress I've ever been a big fan of, but she's better here than she has been in a number of other movies, believably passive for a lot of the earlier scenes before developing a bit of backbone as things move towards the finale. Nicole LaLiberte is the better presence, however, as she manipulates the events around her to make her behaviour morally defensible, in her own mind. Andrew Howard, Michael Stahl-David and Matthew Rauch are testicle-owning bastards, and act accordingly, while Carmine DiBenedetto and Will Brill are slightly nicer young men, and Liam Aiken is the nicest of the lot.
Girls Against Boys won't make much of an impression on anyone looking for the next The Last House On The Left or I Spit On Your Grave, but it does well for being a "light" (or is that "lite"?) version of those kinds of movies.