Many would imagine that there’s little room in televisual attention-space for yet another high school drama. It’s certainly a well-trodden genre, so anyone wandering back that way had better have a fresh idea up their sleeve. The creators of School Spirits had a thought: why not make half of the characters ghosts of former students who have perished over the years? They can roam around interacting with each other, but imperceptible to the living. That would be a bit intriguing, right?
It’s a little staid as twists go, but sibling creators Megan and Nate Trinrud have rather pulled it off. There’s comedy in the dynamic between the ghost and the living individual; “I can see you but you can’t see me” – Shakespearean humour ensues. They exploit it a lot, but they do it well.
Every ready-made prototype of a high school student is here in force, mostly incorporated in a self-aware way. Ghost-protagonist Maddy Nears is a likeable character, portrayed keenly by Peyton List, the show taking the approximate form of a murder mystery around her unexplained death. It misses a bit of an emotional open goal here – she has literally just died and the sorrow is touched upon, but starkly downplayed.
The characterisation is not bad, the acting generally well-considered (List is a standout) and the cinematography is, though slightly unambitious, tidily done. While the story is tight and well projected, a point where the series really does fall short is in the script. It rattles by in a peculiarly basic fashion, with some surreal lines that are unconvincing, no matter who’s responsible for their delivery.
School Spirits is worthwhile. There are unconvincing, sometimes confusing elements, but it has wit, a premise that delivers and a company of characters it’s a pleasure to be around.
School Spirits is released on Paramount+ on 10th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for School Spirits here: