Big Screen Berkeley: ‘My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea,’ ‘Savageland’

An image from ‘My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea’

Somewhere along the California coastline, Tides High School teeters atop a Pacific Ocean promontory. Tides – which, as we will soon learn, isn’t up to code – also sits on an active fault line, posing a threat to students, staff, and faculty and suggesting some serious malfeasance has taken place at the local school board.

Opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, April 21, My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea takes this far-fetched premise and gleefully runs wild with it. Directed by graphic novelist Dash Shaw, it’s an animated feature aimed at a slightly older audience than your typical pen and ink opus.

As with most cinematic secondary schools, Tides’s population consists of a colorful assortment of geeks, jocks, and downtrodden lunch ladies, including sophomore best friends and budding journalists Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (Reggie Watts), who dream of becoming the school paper’s first great investigative team.

Alas, investigations are not what school papers are known for, and when the first issue of the year proves a dud Dash decides to publish a tabloid filled with sensational (and mostly untrue) stories about his fellow students. A late breaking scoop regarding code violations promises to restore his journalistic legitimacy, but a major quake sends Tides High into the ocean before he can go to press.


At times resembling nothing less than a psychedelic antacid commercial crossed with one of those unforgettable anti-drug “educational” films, My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea includes a warning to viewers that “stroboscopic effects that can be dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy” are featured throughout. In addition to these often dazzling sequences, other ingredients in Shaw’s artistic stew include paintings, collages, and winking tributes to such pop art staples as Peanuts and Fantastic Voyage.

Though it’s being released by animation distributor gKids, Entire High School is aimed as much at adults as it is at youngsters. Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon may be marquee names for the over 20s, but tweens and teens probably won’t be impressed by their presence – instead, they’ll appreciate the film’s take on how school social cliques might survive, adapt and thrive in the wake of a natural disaster.

An unsettling scene from ‘Savageland’

Even a celluloid curmudgeon and lifelong luddite such as myself knows that streaming is all the rage these days, but until quite recently I hadn’t realized filmmakers were circumventing theatrical or television releases altogether in favor of the online option. Such is the case with an intriguing low-budget horror flick entitled Savageland, newly available on such platforms as iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu and Xbox Live.

Shot in the desert southwest long before last year’s election, the film is a socially conscious chiller about mass murder on the Arizona-Mexico border – its analysis of immigration politics taking on unexpected (and unanticipated) heft in the Age of Trump. If you enjoyed Get Out and are in the mood for a similarly cerebral thriller, you could do a lot worse than Savageland. Fire up your laptop!