Movie Review: The Thinning (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 thriller starring Peyton List and Logan Paul.

Synopsis: To combat climate change and other problems associated with over population, the United Nations requires all nations to reduce their populations by 5 percent. In the United States, this is determined via a standardized test given every year from 1st grade through graduation. Only, as a pair of Texas students learn, not everyone is given an equal chance to pass.


I came across this movie a couple weeks ago and, after everyone else was in bed relatively early last night, decided to take the time to watch it. I wasn't 100 percent certain if I would enjoy the film or would turn it off after a few minutes. However, it turned out to be an interesting movie.

I think the thing that really sunk in with me when it came to this movie was how psychologically draining something like "the thinning" would be on families if it were to happen in real life. At first, I thought the movie was about just one test, given at graduation. Instead, it was a test given every year from elementary school through high school, with the bottom students being executed.

Adding to all of this was just how easily the results could be manipulated, whether you were a person with influence or a high school student looking to make some extra money by selling test answers. The movie didn't shy away from making sure that abuse was used generously and, I have to admit, it drew out some real emotions as a result.

As far as the overall plot goes, I thought it was well-written. It wasn't a movie that needed to be overly complicated to work, just fast paced enough to keep it from becoming dull, and the writers did a good job at that. I learned everything I needed to learn about the key players in the film without getting bogged down with a bunch of unnecessary details.

The movie also proved to be less predictable than I thought it would be, especially the ending, which wasn't quite the direction I was expecting it to go. I probably would have left out the very last part of the movie, which is obviously there to set up a sequel. However, despite that, I have no real complaints.

Probably the only thing I didn't like about the movie was the way it threw in a romantic sub-plot between the two main characters, Laina (List) and Blake (Paul). Given the limited amount of time they spent together, it just seemed like something that was forced and I find it hard to believe two high school students, facing capture and death, would have too much on their mind to flirt with each other, let along fall in love. But a movie has to movie, I guess.

Final Opinion

It didn't need the forced love story but, otherwise, was a decent thriller that definitely had me interested from start to finish and left me questioning the whole standardized test concept. If you haven't seen the film, I would recommend it.

My Grade: A-

Updated: 01/04/2021, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/21/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system here does not have this film! It's surprising to me what with the natural population thinning that is occurring with COVID.

Is your question about standardized tests related to how easy it would be, according to the film, to manipulate the results?

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