In 2016, YouTube released its first original movie: a near-future tale calledThe Thinningabout a world where children are killed for failing a standardized test. Starring Logan Paul,The Thinningwas almost immediately forgotten; nevertheless, YouTube still started the production of a sequel the following year. This past January, however, Paul filmed the body of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest in one of his vlogs, igniting international controversy, and the project was shelved “indefinitely.” There simply wasn’t much reason to revisit the world ofThe Thinning, a generic sci-fi film released near the end of theHunger Games-fueled YA dystopia gold rush.
Last week, Paul tweeted the trailer for the sequel, signaling that the YouTube film was very much back on. Twelve hours later,The Thinning: New World Orderwent live on YouTube Premium. Equal parts bizarre political thriller, paint-by-numbers dystopia, and a boxing match, New World Orderis a Logan Paul comeback tour vehicle dragged down by a premise that its filmmakers seem to find alternately boring and confusing.
Spoilers forThe ThinningandThe Thinning: New World Orderbelow.
TheThinningseries is set in a near future where all nations must reduce their populations by 5 percent each year. In true meritocratic fashion, the US does this by instituting an annual K-12 exam and executing the worst performers. (You’d have to kill a quarterof school-aged children — and an increasing percentage each year — to hit that target with our real-world population, but it’s portrayed as an uncommon fate.) In the first film, Blake Reddington (Logan Paul) is a Texas governor’s son who intentionally fails his test as a protest, only to have his father swap his scores with smart classmate Laina Michaels (Peyton List). Blake embarks on a mission to save Laina from execution, ultimately sacrificing himself to “the Thinning.”
Meanwhile, Blake and his fellow underachievers reawaken after what turns out to be a mock execution. They’re told that a “patented algorithm” has selected them for special reform, so they can grow “from a parasitic leech on our society to a productive member of the working class.” This scene is the only timeNew World Orderbecomes absurd enough to make the series’s premise work; it is darkly funny, and it’s over almost immediately.
That’s mostly because the film seems utterly indifferent toward its own subject matter, though. As a non-member of the Logang, I can’t judge how much fun it is to watch Logan Paul get in a fistfight, wander around a warehouse looking dejected, or participate in a baffling PG-rated dream sequence love scene. Icanquestion why you’d pad this fan service with such a halfhearted and blatantly nonsensical plot, which ends on an equally nonsensical cliffhanger that’s spoiled by the film’s trailer. There is no reason forThe Thinning: New World Orderto exist, but, apparently, we’ll be getting a sequel.