11 Great Movies About Bad Schools Mistreating Their Students

When I look back to my years in high school, I shudder at the thought of ever walking those halls again. But some films take my unpleasant high school days and make them look like a blast with their depictions of terrifying teachers, horrendous bullies, and unconcerned administrations.
On a popular online movie forum, one user asked other movie lovers to suggest their favorite films about schools that mistreat their students. People replied with their favorites in the comments.

1. Matilda (1996)

Matilda Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidtz
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

One famous example of a film that mistreats its students is Matilda. A young gifted girl with abusive parents attends a school with a brutal principal who terrorizes every student that walks through her path. But when the girl discovers her telekinetic powers, she uses her gift to fight back against her bullies.

2. Heaven Help Us (1985)

Heaven Help Us
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

At a strict Catholic academy for boys, a new student stirs up trouble with his inability to conform to the school's harsh standards. The nuns at the school often beat the students with their rulers and used their power to foster fear in the boys.

3. School Ties (1992)

School Ties Matt Damon
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

School Ties reflects on the ever-present threat of anti-semitism in the Jewish community when a football prodigy attends a fancy school to play football, hoping his Jewish identity won't come to light. But when the other students discover his faith, the star football player becomes the victim of anti-Semitic bullies.

4. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poet's Society Robin Williams
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and Warner Bros.

In a harsh preparatory school with ancient roots and strict traditions, a new English teacher makes it his mission to help his students become who they want to be, despite the school administration's wishes. Can the boys find a way to please the school and find themselves simultaneously?

5. Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria Jessica Harper
Image Credit: Produzioni Atlas Consorziate.

When a new student arrives at a renowned European dance academy, she notices strange noises carrying through the halls at night. After a classmate's murder, the new student attempts to uncover the school's mysteries before another victim dies.

6. The Woods (2006)

The Woods Patricia Clarkson
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Woods is a psychological horror film about a girl who attends a remote boarding school surrounded by dense forest. When her classmates begin to disappear, the girl has an inkling that the school secretly teaches witchcraft.

7. Battle Royale (2000)

Battle Royale Chiaki Kuriyama
Image Credit: Toei Company.

When the government in a dystopian society sends forty-two ninth graders from an academy of delinquents to a deserted island, the kids must partake in the Battle Royale games where only one student makes it out alive. Fitted with explosive collars, the students must follow strict rules in the hopes of becoming the sole survivor.

8. If…. (1968)

If.... Malcolm McDowell
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

At a school with harsh divides between the powerful older students and the victimized first-year students, a young troublemaker returns only to get in trouble immediately. As the two groups of students face-off, the school's administration looks the other way.

9. The White Ribbon (2009)

The White Ribbon
Image Credit: Filmladen.

Just before World War I, a small German village's upper class begin to face dangerous pranks, and they seek out a culprit. As the three sadistic leaders of the village hunt for the pranksters, they become suspicious of the town's schoolchildren.

10. Silenced (2011)

Image Credit: CJ Entertainment.

The new art teacher at an academy for deaf children discovers a disgusting ploy by some teachers who sexually abused their students over five years. Silenced is a heart-wrenching film based on actual events that took place at a school in Korea in the early 2000s.

11. Sleepers (1996)

Sleepers Brad Renfro, Jonathan Tucker, Joe Perrino, Geoffrey Wigdor
Image Credit: Warner Bros. and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

When four teen friends almost commit murder, they're sent to a reform school where the brutal guards beat and torture them. Years later, two of the friends come together on a revenge mission to kill the guards who hurt them.

What other films about terrible schools should get a spot on this list?
This thread inspired this post.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.