The Last Stop Documentary Review, A Film About The Elan School for Troubled Teens has Problems of Its Own

I’ll take a chance on a documentary I know doesn’t involve much crime or mystery sometimes. That’s why when I saw the premise of The Last Stop, I was actually pretty excited. I haven’t been watching as many true crime documentaries as feverishly over the last two weeks. I’ve been in the mood for some other content which helped this one catch my attention.

The documentary is about The Elan School for Troubled Teens up in Maine. A place for teenagers from at least the 1970s through the late 2000s, it was operated by a guy named Joe Ricci with some interesting methods. Many include shouting, degrading, and putting together what I could best classify as structured anarchy.

Without getting too detailed about the actual content of the documentary, I’d prefer to share what I usually do in order to help you figure out if it’s something for you.

What was good about The Last Stop

The structure of the documentary includes a lot of different interviews and actual footage from inside the school. Everything that it needed was there. I know exactly what happened at the Elan School. What more could we ask for?

The good kind of stops here. As a film, it all seemed to go downhill after the early barrage of curse words from an actor playing one of the teenagers.

What could have made The Last Stop better

The documentary throws a lot of graduates or runaways from the school at us immediately. They’re on the screen for no more than 5 seconds at a time. It’s hard to remember anything about them. I know the biker guy ran away and lived in the woods with a guy named Sticks for a year.

Everything about The Last Stop seemed disorganized. The documentary never really got into a groove. The storytelling was poorly done and there was no emotion to it. For a documentary about a bunch of kids who had it rough, I was expecting to have some feelings about them. I didn’t have any.

The Last Stop would have served itself better by slowing the eff down. Going student by student with a longer introduction would have made us actually care about what happened to them all in the end. 

In fairness to the documentary, I was getting distracted a lot early on. Midway through, I realized my heart also just wasn’t in this one. Maybe I should stick to true crime.

Is The Last Stop worth watching?

Pass on this. There isn’t anything really intriguing. The documentary doesn’t break any new grounds and beyond a few moments of “can you believe they made the kids do that?” it wasn’t all that memorable.

Overall Score: 4 out of 10

This was a decently made documentary. My biggest problem was it felt like someone who didn’t help film was the one to make the edits. Several of the people featured seemed very interesting. None were on screen for a long enough period in a row to stand out.

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