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Craving a Psychological Thriller? Go No Further Than Your Student Loan Bill [Film Review]


Is this haunted house scarier than student debt?

CREDIT: Sean MacEntee

A young girl tapes up her doors and windows, then cowers in bed. A dark red force grabs her and tries to pull her out the window as she screams. Sound like a horror movie? It is, but the monster is student debt.

The new short film The Red, which premiered around the country earlier this month, isn't just trying to scare viewers. It's trying to remind them that the $1 trillion student loan debt crisis in America is a real reason to be afraid.

As we've reported, student debt is serious and affects nearly 15 million Americans under the age of 30, but few students and recent grads even know how much they owe. Like the young woman in The Red, they are trying to hide from their debt because it's too scary to face.

The Red is a project of the non-profit American Student Assistance (ASA), which helps students with budgeting and understanding their repayment and student loans.

“It isn't easy to get young people who feel panicked about their debts to do something about it,” said Sue Burton from ASA. “To connect meaningfully with them, we produced something very entertaining that acknowledges how frightening it can be, yet portrays their own power and offers a path out of the nightmare."

The filmmakers involved in the The Red have been involved in real horror films including Martha Marcy May MarleneAmerican Psycho, and The Moth Diaries, but the paralyzing fear of student debt is real to them, too.

“We know exactly how scary it is to owe a ton of money for school and have no clue how to pay it back,” said director Antonio Campos. “This is a story we related to. The feeling of The Red made sense. And we embraced the opportunity to work on this project.”

With projects like The Red, hopefully more students will be armed with knowledge about student debt instead of cowering from their fears in the dark.

Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is a reporter-blogger for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @salvadordahlia.

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