Dorm Boys tries to present a spectrum of college life in and around the University Belt. It’s a fine idea, but the execution is sorely lacking. Aside from low-budget technical woes, the film sabotages itself by splitting its time between five main characters. The movie struggles to build dramatic momentum as it jumps from one story to the next, largely ignoring the consequences of actions, and just moving on to the next bit. It’s terribly unsatisfying.
The story revolves around five college students studying in the University Belt. Hector (Carlos Lazerna) is failing his engineering course pretty badly, and when his professor offers a passing grade in exchange for sex, he’s forced to consider it. Tonton (Arron Villaflor) seeks to be recognized by his father, who has another family. Richard (Renz Michael) boasts about having a casual sexual relationship with his professor, but is secretly wishing for more. Iggie (Arvic Rivero) talks getting a better life in the US, but until then he struggles with both school and his relationships. Ruben (Ryan Kevin) has trouble with academics, but he finds more success in courting a comely young student.
Each of these five stories has interesting elements. But splitting the narrative between these ideas leads to underdeveloped stories. The film seems prone to avoiding drama, and instead lurches to conclusions without dealing with the messier details of the story. Where there ought to be consequences for actions, the movie largely just jumps to another character. This all ultimately builds up to nothing, the film failing to resolve many of the issues that it brings up.
Subpar filmmaking compounds the problem. The movie doesn’t look very good, scenes generally lacking the coverage to make them move. The sound is even worse. It sounds like they were only using the built-in microphone on the camera, which makes the sound pretty spotty. When somebody moves out of frame, it can be a struggle to hear him or her. Some consideration can be made for the film’s low-budget status, but to be brutally frank, many filmmakers are able to do a lot more with less. There’s just no excuse nowadays for subpar production, especially for a film that makes it into a major cinema.
The acting is okay. The actors definitely struggle with some of the film’s more awkward lines of dialogue. But it’s clear that they’re making do with what they have. Arron Villaflor is rough around the edges, but his performance sticks out for veering close to emotional. In contrast, Carlos Lazerna and Renz Michael often feel like they’re just reciting. The supporting cast plays a lot broader than the five leads, and it can create a strange disparity in scenes.
Dorm Boys ends on a real thud. It offers up five different but intersecting narratives, each featuring some aspect of college life drama. But it doesn’t go very deep in any of the stories. It offers so little in the way of dramatic exploration that the conclusion couldn’t really have gone in any other way. The movie would have been better served with some focus, discarding the chaff and concentrating on developing one or two stories. Because there are ideas here worth diving into, the life of college students always fertile ground for stories. Dorm Boys just doesn’t have the focus to carry it out.