Bang Bang, You’re Dead tells us the story of Trevor (Ben Foster, in what is by far his best performance), who was a good, normal student until he began being bullied by other students. He then became worse and worse until he finally snapped and threatened to blow up the football team. The bomb was non-functional (there was no explosive), but was otherwise perfectly made. He was suspended from school. The school put in place a Zero Tolerance policy, along with an expensive metal detector, and then let Trevor come back the next year (though with heavy surveillance, frisking, and anger management sessions). He also decides to use a video camera to film his everyday life at both home and school and record his own thoughts. Meanwhile, the drama teacher, Mr. Duncan (Tom Cavanaugh), prints out a play called Bang Bang, You’re Dead (which, by the way, is a real play), which is about a school shooting, and proceeds to cast Trevor as the lead role of the shooter. This causes a lot of controversy, but Mr. Duncan refuses to stop production.
There are a lot of other subplots, such as a love interest/friendship and hanging out with these loners who call themselves ‘Trogs’ (they’re basically the epitome of what you’d actually expect school shooters to be like). But everything is woven together in the overall plot of Trevor’s journey of being understood.
There are two scenes that always stick out the most to me, which are also two scenes that made me cry. One is a scene when the police take one of his videos that he shot and plays it in front of parents/faculty/police/etc. Just seeing everything through Trevor’s eyes and how everything is working against him, and against other people, as well… just seeing what would drive a person to do something so drastic… it’s heart-wrenching. And the saddest part is that it is all completely true. The other scene is the movie’s ending, which I won’t spoil.
(Randomly: I actually put/edited together a few clips from the movie (mostly using bits from the video diary scene) to use for a presentation on Zero Tolerance. The clip was only about 5 minutes long, but by the time it was over, I had the entire class, including the teacher, in tears).
This is a powerfully written and powerfully filmed movie that, unfortunately, almost nobody has ever even heard of. And it’s also very hard to find, because production of the DVD was stopped a few years back, so you can really only find it on places like Amazon (that’s where I got mine). I can’t recommend this movie to enough people, really. I can’t even rate this movie, because I would give it a score higher than I have. That’s how great/important this movie is.