The United Kingdom has brought us this interesting, if not muddled, tale a few years back, though to little fanfare. The Lesson, though I rather liked it, seems the type of movie to divide those who see it - some will be bothered by the seemingly meandering first thirty minutes, while others may take issue with the last six minutes of the film as being unnecessary. Others still may not find the gore and torture to their tastes.
The centerpiece of the film was the lesson these two young men were forced to sit through, and overall, I actually thought much of what the insane teacher had to say was interesting. Of course, I'd be less fond of his intellectual discourse if he kept coming after me with a nail gun, and my best friend was bleeding to death beside me due to blunt-force trauma. Still, the focus of the film, being the teacher's ramblings on how much of the youth have zero respect for learning, is an interesting one.
Before the torture, we get thirty minutes of our two main characters hanging out, talking about what they want to do in the future, robbing stores, disrespecting teachers' vehicles, and smoking weed. In a way, I think the beginning really humanizes the characters - we get many a scene of the small things that make us human, such as being unsure as to what the future will bring, or the feeling or being trapped in one place, with no real prospects of leaving. Couple that with some pretty decent music throughout, and the horror portions aside, you have a rather moving drama film.
Personally, I thought most of the film worked well together, though I've heard others say that the movie didn't know what it wanted to be. I disagree - I think the movie knew what it was going for, and it worked out pretty well. A few elements leave a bit to be desired, such as the subplot of one of the characters' flashbacks of his mother, or a somewhat out-of-place romantic portion, and a scene near the end which was unrealistic, but overall, I think The Lesson worked out well.
The torture, though simplistic and lacking in variety (biggest change was when the teacher went from using a hammer and nail to using a nail gun), came across as pretty brutal, and some thumbs even got cut off in the process. It really was a bloodbath toward the end. What also should be mentioned is the final six minutes - it tacked an epilogue of sorts, and that's something I've not really seen often in horror films. For that reason, it felt slightly out of place, but at the same time, came across as refreshing. The Lesson is not at all your typical horror film, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. If you want something different, this UK flick may be worth checking out.