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Film / De Kalb Elementary

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DeKalb Elementary is a 2017 short film (21 minutes) directed by Reed van Dyk.

It opens on what seems an unexceptional day at an elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia. The receptionist, Cassandra Rice (Tarra Riggs of The Help) thinks nothing of it when a rather heavyset young man named Steven Hall (Bo Mitchell) enters the office and asks to make a phone call. Soon, however, the young man pulls out an automatic weapon from his backpack. Unlike many, many, many other incidents in American history, however, the young man with the machine gun does not start shooting, but winds up taking Cassandra the receptionist hostage. A tense standoff ensues as Cassandra tries to talk Steven down and prevent a tragedy.


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Tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: At one point Steven has Cassandra take to the school loudspeaker system to apologize for scaring anyone. The film then shows a couple of shots of the long-abandoned school corridors.
  • Ate His Gun: Does not actually happen. But at one point Steven tries to put the barrel in his mouth, only to discover that he can't really do that and keep the finger on the trigger.
  • Based on a True Story: Based on a real incident at an Atlanta-area elementary school.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Surprisingly, the man with the machine gun in an elementary school. Steven is an obviously emotionally disturbed young man, crying, talking about how no one cares about him, saying multiple times that he wants to "go back to the hospital." Cassandra extends real sympathy to him, telling him about how she thought about killing herself when she was going through a divorce.
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  • Oh, Crap!: Several people have this moment. One man who enters the office doesn't seem to be able to process what is happening until Steven fires a round from his machine gun.
  • The Oner: Opens with a static camera shot of the office. The first cut doesn't come until after Steven pulls the gun out of his bag.
  • The Place: DeKalb Elementary School, where one receptionist goes through a terrifying ordeal.
  • Real Time: Or close to it, anyway. There's little sign of any Time Skip other than one Jump Cut when Steven is pacing around in front of a bench.
  • The Voice: The 911 operator on the phone with Cassandra.
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