Student Loan Debt Has Been a Nightmare for Years. Now It's a Horror Movie

The Red Movie"In the Red," a film by American Student Assistance.

Economically speaking, it's a nightmare out there for young adults. Student loan debt has never been higher and the employment market has rarely been tougher. Wages are low, expenses are high, and a growing number of college grads are finding themselves on a treadmill to nowhere, running hard and fast merely to stay in place.

But student loan debt isn't just a horror: now it's a horror movie. American Student Assistance, a nonprofit group that educates collegians about loans and counsels graduates on their repayment options, has released "In the Red," an eight-minute horror film in which the young heroine is stalked by the ever-more-terrifying specter of her debt.

The movie draws from classic horror flicks -- some scenes will be familiar to fans of Final Destination, Jacob's Ladder, 28 Days Later and any number of Alfred Hitchcock films. But if the technique is classic, the story is all-too-contemporary: A recent college graduate finds herself drowning in college debt, car debt, and the high cost of her lifestyle. As hard as she tries, she can't escape from the relentless, constant threat of...the red.

Critics, including The Atlantic's Jordan Weissmann, have claimed that the movie exaggerates the student debt problem and have questioned the effectiveness of treating debt as a horror. However, as anyone who has ever been on the debt treadmill can attest, the nightmare is very real. And, for grads facing the harsh light of post-collegiate home economics, an eight-minute horror flick seems like the perfect tool to jump-start a conversation on, budgeting, your way out of debt.

Watch the movie and let us know what you think.


Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.