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|Directed by||Michael Gallagher|
|Music by||Brandon Campbell|
|Edited by||Brian Ufberg|
|Distributed by||YouTube Red|
The Thinning is a 2016 American social science fiction thriller web film directed by Michael Gallagher and starring Logan Paul, Peyton List, Lia Marie Johnson, Calum Worthy, Matthew Glave, Michael Traynor, and Ryan Newman. It is set in a dystopian future in which population control is enforced through a school aptitude test. Those who fail it will be executed. Two high school students learn, to their horror, that the tests are rigged.
In the year 2039, Earth's resources are nearly depleted by overpopulation, and global warming leaves less land for the world population to live. So the United Nations declares that all nations must cut their population by 5% each year. While some countries remove their elderly, others enforce a one-child policy. The United States implements a policy known as 10-241 or the "Thinning", a standardized test taken from first grade to twelfth grade. Those who pass continue to the next grade, while those who fail are executed.
The story is set in Austin, Texas where Laina Michaels (Peyton List) helps Simon (Miles Elliot) study for the Thinning. When he is unable to understand the content, Laina reluctantly sells Simon a small contact lens that will solve the questions on the test for him, and uses the money earned to pay for treatments for her sick mother. On their way to the Thinning exam, Simon is nudged and his contact falls out. The guards usher him into the building, and without the lens, he fails his exam and is ultimately executed. Before the test, Laina meets up with her friend Kellan (Calum Worthy) whose father is a teacher at their high school.
Blake Redding (Logan Paul) is the son of the Texas governor Dean Redding (Matthew Glave). Although he lives the high life, he is dating a wild girl named Ellie (Lia Marie Johnson). Blake sneaks out of his house to hang out with Ellie one last time before the Thinning and they sneak off to a hilltop pool. While they are kissing in the car, one of Governor Redding's agents discovers them, and Blake is taken home to be lectured by his father.
Ellie fails the exam the following day, and Blake calls his father in an attempt to free Ellie, but he refuses. Blake causes a diversion and screams at Ellie to run, but she is blocked by students in the hallway and is recaptured. Ellie is executed in the Thinning.
One year later, Laina's mother has died and she is helping her younger sister Corrine (Dimitra Leontidou) study for her first Thinning test. Blake has become cold and distant towards his father since Ellie's death. He makes a video explaining that he will purposefully fail his Thinning exam in order to punish his father for what happened to Ellie and to try to get his father to stop supporting the Thinning. Blake drops his tape in the mail, but his father's agents remove it and have it delivered to him personally. The agents are ordered by Dean Redding to pass Blake regardless of his score. Because Blake and Laina finish the test at the same time, the agents switch Blake's and Laina's scores. Laina fails as a result, and Blake passes. Another student, Sarah Foster (Ryan Newman), had sex with her teacher the day before the test as motivation for him to alter the test. However, her teacher betrays her and ensures she fails so to hide what he did. Sarah fails the test and is led away with Laina and the other students to be Thinned.
The students that pass go to the Recreation Room, having a party while the "failing" students are being Thinned. Ms. Birch, Laina's teacher, then watches Sarah's teacher lure another girl into having sex with him. Ms. Birch leaves the room and sees Laina in the hall, walking with other students towards a room where they will be executed. Ms. Birch tries to convince a guard that Laina is too smart to fail the test, but the guard is told by his superior, Mason King, that Laina failed the test and must be executed. As Laina is being led away, Ms. Birch presses a key card into Laina's hand so she can unlock the doors and escape.
Blake causes a power outage in the school, allowing Laina to escape using Ms. Birch's key card while the school goes under lockdown. News about the events spreads that parents have no information about what has happened to their students. Because of this, Dean Redding has to reassure to the parents that their students are safe.
After using the key card, Laina meets up with Blake and they explore through the vents to avoid the guards.
Meanwhile, all of the teachers are taken to a holding room to be investigated. Ms. Birch flirts with Sarah's teacher and steals his key card. She shows Mason King her key card and is allowed to leave, while Sarah's teacher is kept behind and beaten when he cannot reveal Laina's whereabouts to King.
Blake, disguised as a guard, leaves Laina to go to the Thinning while Laina goes to the server room to check the scores. To her horror, she finds out that test procedures are rigged and have resulted in the wrongful deaths of many students with passing scores, including Ellie, who failed with an 88%. Blake passed with a 15%, and Laina failed with a 98%. Laina sends this information to Kellan. Mason King and the DPC track Laina down to the server room using security cameras, apprehend her, and return her to the Thinning, where she finds Blake, who tried and failed to free the students in the Thinning room and is tied up in the corner. The teacher that had sex with Sarah is also executed for giving Laina his keycard.
After photos of the Thinning results are leaked to the media by Kellan, Governor Redding has no choice but to review the results and execute all those who actually failed, including Blake. He also has to free all the students who passed. Laina is greatly upset by this, and after sharing a kiss with Blake, Blake is taken by guards to be Thinned while Laina is dragged outside. Blake and the other failing students are executed. After the school finally lifts the lockdown, Laina is reunited with Corrine outside the school.
Blake and the other supposedly executed students, including Sarah, are shown in a large elevator deep underground, where they see many people working for the company that makes the tablets for the test. As Blake slowly wakes up from the drug that actually put him and the others to sleep instead of killing them, he sees a girl taking off a white mask. The girl is revealed to be Ellie.
- Logan Paul as Blake Redding
- Peyton List as Laina Michaels
- Calum Worthy as Kellan Woods
- Lia Marie Johnson as Ellie Harper
- Matthew Glave as Gov. Dean Redding
- Michael Traynor as Mason King
- Ryan Newman as Sarah Foster
- Stacey Dash as Kendra Birch
- Patrick O'Sullivan as Mr. Glass
- Jana Winternitz as Ms. Cole
- Kiersten Warren as Barbara Michaels
- Miles Elliot as Simon
- Ramona Young as Adele
- Tara Platt as Animation Voice Over
Adi Robertson of The Verge wrote negatively of the film, describing its plot as "a mess" and that it was a bad take on the dystopian formula, comparing it to the Netflix series 3% as the lower quality of the two dystopian meritocracy premises released that year.
On November 17, 2017, Logan Paul announced on his YouTube channel that a sequel, titled The Thinning: New World Order was starting production.
On January 10, 2018, YouTube announced that production of New World Order was put on hold, as part of repercussions instated upon Paul for posting a controversial video in which he visited Aokigahara, a Japanese forest known for being a common place for suicides to occur, and filmed a dead body. This sparked outrage across social media against Paul, forcing an apology from himself and repercussions from YouTube, including delaying The Thinning - New World Order and his appearance in the upcoming season of YouTube Red series Foursome.
- Weiss, Geoff (October 6, 2016). "Logan Paul Unveils Official Trailer For YouTube Red's First Feature Thriller, 'The Thinning'". Tubefilter. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- Robertson, Adi (2016-12-15). "3% and The Thinning are this year's best and worst take on dystopian meritocracy". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
- "Logan Paul, and the toxic YouTube prank culture that created him, explained".
- Alexander, Julia (10 January 2018). "YouTube removes Logan Paul from top-tier Google ad platform, YouTube Red projects on hold". Polygon.