- Broken Base: Some praised the filming of the shooting for its stark realism and nightmareish setup, while others criticized the wooden acting from the cast (which was comprised of many non-actors) and found the reactions of the students completely unrealistic, as many fail to react at all to the sight of students with guns or, in Benny's case, dead bodies and fire.
- Complete Monster: In this film based on the Columbine shooting, Alex is a cold-blooded rampage killer who attempts to massacre his entire school. Alex, along with his partner Eric, plan to bomb the school and gun down the survivors, which would've killed hundreds of people. When the bombs fail to go off, Alex and Eric settle for going room to room and shooting everyone they come across indiscriminately. When Alex and Eric regroup in the cafeteria, Alex kills Eric in cold blood, and proceeds to play a sadistic game of "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" with a couple that had been hiding in the freezer. While Alex, along with his fellow shooter Eric, had been bullied by his classmates, Alex's actions appear to be motivated by little more than the desire to hurt others for fun.
- Critical Dissonance: While the film was much liked by critics (to the point where it won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), the general reaction of the common man (at least those who disliked the film) is that the film tries a bit too hard at being an "art-house" approach at Developing Doomed Characters, that the final shooting scenes stand out quite starkly against all of the previous scenes, that the characters themselves are Flat Characters, and that there was no actual reason given for the shootings to occur, despite implying that any number of them were influenced by lousy parenting, experimenting with neo-nazism, a violent video game addiction, not being part of any of the school cliques and closeted (or experimental) homosexuality (or bi-curiosity). The shooters themselves are seen by people as nothing more than caricatures that may as well be doing it For the Evulz or acting out of a contrived "perfect storm" of potential reasons for Going Postal. There are also many people who (understandably) proclaimed it as being Too Soon (even if Columbine happened on 1999, with school shootings and the fear of them on the rise in the in-between).
- Harsher in Hindsight: While it's obviously hard to watch after any high profile school shooting, the Red Lake shooting of 2005 (as gunman Jeff Wiese saw the movie a few weeks before the tragedy) and the Umpqua Community College shooting of 2015 (which also happened to take place in Oregon).
- Nightmare Fuel: For obvious reasons, the school shooting is, especially as Alex and Eric kill even more than their real-life counterparts. Benny walking slowly through the terror makes it seem all the more nightmareish. And then it ends with Alex playing a sadistic game with his latest victims while they plead for their lives.
- Moral Event Horizon: As if the school shooting wasn't enough, Alex and Eric take a flying leap beyond the MEH with the sheer sadism they express during it. And Alex then goes and shoots Eric while the latter is telling him what kills he's gotten so far.
- The Woobie: Many of the characters, but one that stands out the most is Michelle. The films shows her as this shy, insecure young girl who covers her body in the gym, wears the same khakis and red blouse, and mainly volunteers in the library. She doesn't have much going for her and she barely gets a word in edgewise before she gets shot.
The White Stripes album
- Epic Riff: "Seven Nation Army" and "The Hardest Button To Button."