Review: The Boarding School: Las Cumbres

Watched this 3-season Spanish series on Amazon Prime, and I am baffled as to why this hasn’t become a bigger deal. I suppose it’s down to the fact that it’s subtitled, but this show has it all: Atmosphere! Sex! Violence! Betrayal! More Betrayal! Catacombs! More heel turns and face turns than a season of pro wrestling! In the name of God, what do you want from television if this isn’t it?

The setting is the titular boarding school for incorrigibles, nestled on a mountain peak atop sheer rock walls. Oh yeah, there’s a monastery there too. The school is openly abusive—students are routinely sent to “the cooler,” a literal dungeon open to the outside air, as punishment, and then have to recite a creepy thing about how they deserved their punishment in front of the entire student body. In an early episode, a girl has her head shaved for disobedience (and then apparently decides she’s gonna make it work for her, as she continues to rock the buzz cut for at least three months of story time. Go Paz!).

But students (and some staff) soon find that there’s something even more sinister going on at the school than the abuse everybody knows about. Does it have to do with the ancient cult that used to meet on this site? Or the sinister guy who doesn’t work at the school but seems to be in charge of it somehow whose daughter has amnesia? Or the monks who may or may not be what they seem? The show does a wonderful job of keeping us off balance, as the students try to figure out exactly what the hell is going on while searching for missing comrades and trying to dodge an apparent serial killer.

Now, let’s be completely clear—there’s a lot that is preposterous about this show, and you have to be willing to put that stuff aside. Stuff like, “wow, these parents really don’t seem to care that multiple murders have taken place on this campus, huh?” or '“you know, for a place with such draconian discipline, it’s a bit weird that the students are essentially unsupervised and have no trouble being places they’re not supposed to be pretty much any time at all.”

Also, secondary characters tend to kind of disappear a lot, waved away with a “yeah, they left the school.” And there’s a significant departure after season 2 that never fully makes sense.

BUT—literally every mystery in the show, of which there are many, is ultimately resolved in satisfying fashion. Every single one! I’m so used to shows halfassing the ending or just hoping we’d forget about part of the mystery that it was incredibly satisfying to have every single thing wrapped up satisfactorily by the end.

If you’re squeamish about gore, there are five or six moments per season that you’ll want to avoid. But if you think a show about plucky kids trying to fight against overwhelming odds (while of course still negotiating high school hookups, because priorities!) in a spooky setting might be for you, you’re probably right!

#review #tv