You took a crap in the back yard!
24 days into my month long look at horror films and I move onto the first film that I’ve seen in a while that has what some would describe as a swear word in it, although from what I understand it is used in the context of the literal meaning of bastard, rather than how Inglorious Basterds used it….that and it’s spelt correctly.
I am also reasonably optimistic that Bastard will actually be decent given that it has a very high (for an independent horror film) rating on IMDB, albeit from less than 100 voters, so in that sense I reckon that this might be a genuine gem of a horror film from a dying sub-genre (the wording from the trailer).
Then again, high scores on IMDB don’t necessarily mean anything.
Hannah (Greer) and West (Creed) are travelling serial killers and regularly con people before killing them. Their latest kill sees them take out Max (Micah Fitzgerald) and steal his car. Whilst driving aimlessly and planning their next kill, they run into Betty (Kennedy) and Jake (Tranfo), a couple that are running away from the latter’s abusive father. Despite Hannah’s objections, West agrees to give them a lift to the next town.
They arrive in a run down town with very little to it. Hannah and West plan their next victims as they are told that a concert that they had planned was booked at the wrong address, and all four of the group makes their way to the local hotel and meet Rachael (Kay), a seemingly friendly enough woman. She welcomes them with open arms.
Soon thereafter suicidal cop Michael (Culver) finds the body of the bar tender that rejects Hannah and West, as well as the girl that he was about to have sex with. He warns all about the dangers and warns them to be careful, but he agrees to join in with Rachael’s hike the following morning. West suddenly disappears and it isn’t long into the hike that the group realises that one of them is a killer, and it’s not Hannah as she barely survives an attack.
A decent horror film?
Bastard starts with an absolute bang and feels very old school in nature with it’s approach to dialogue and the opening credits. At that point I was very excited about potentially seeing an excellent addition to the horror genre.
The first five or so minutes of the film are by far the most entertaining as it leads you down the path of thinking that Hannah and Max are going to have sex, then West shows up in a seemingly innocent manner and places his guitar in the back of his car. This kills Max’s enthusiasm for the situation and then he realises that true extent of the relationship between Hannah and West, and he is swiftly killed before old-school style credits rolled.
One of the many reasons that this worked was that far too often a character will threaten to hurt another character and then never do it, often sodding about before never being able to do it, but it was a refreshing change to see what I call “The Martin Keamy Effect” (Google Martin Keamy), in other words, actually killing someone without comprising on your promise to do so. West doesn’t fuck around and kills Max with what looks like a spike before he has a chance to fight back.
The first five minutes or so of the film are brilliant but it soon loses momentum and I found myself becoming bored. Whilst I often say that developing characters is important, it shouldn’t the only thing that the story tellers are focusing on for a LONG time without anything happening at all. I know that a lot of people will look at that and thinking that there wasn’t a big gap, but the problem is that there is a long spell where the only thing of note that happens other than character development is the death of the bar tender, who is such a minor character that the death barely even seemed worth mentioning….although the death itself was well done.
I am all up for character development as long as it feels like the story is moving forward, such as the film that I will reveal as my favourite horror film on October 31st. Without revealing what the film is now, that film is all about character development for the first hour of the film and then onto the main core of the film, but even during the first hour things move forward at a reasonable rate, something that doesn’t happen in Bastard.
This isn’t helped by boring characters and especially Betty, who can’t have more than ten lines of dialogue throughout. She is just devoid of any type of personality and it’s like a fun-vacuum that takes any sense of enjoyment out of any scene that she is in. I can’t criticise the acting of Rebekah Kennedy at all, but then again it would be excellent difficult to criticise the acting of anyone who is given such a poor role that it is exceptionally difficult to care about, and the fact that I found the revelation that her and Jake are actually brother and sister and that the baby she’s carrying is inbred to be completely flat.
I think one of the main problems of the film is the neither of the two couples would actually be anywhere near being together in real life. Hannah and West are not even vaguely similar, with the exception of wanting to kill people, and I refuse to believe in any shape or form that Jake and Betty would ever have gotten together.
However, for me the biggest crime that it commits is that the most interesting subplot is brought to such an unsatisfying conclusion. Please note this little bit contains a spoiler. Michael, played by Burt Culver (who gives a far better performance that when he was in Ghostline, a film I reviewed a few days ago), is a suicidal man who’s boyfriend breaks up with him until he figures things out. This section of the early part of the story is well done……but then when Michael becomes involved with the main characters there is very little indication of him being suicidal anymore and then he is just killed without much effort by the killer, who turns out to be Rachael.
It just felt like an unfinished subplot and this left me more disappointed that most other parts of the film, and the complete “out of the blue” nature of revealing Rachael as the killer and what she went through before the events of the film just left it a bit flat.
Bastard starts off very well indeed and is as good as an opening to a film that I have seen in a while, but it soon falls flat after that and I was already bored after fifteen minutes
The film’s deaths are excellent and bone crunching (literally), but there is nothing else other than those and the opening worth writing home about. Other than the brief surge of interesting action every now and then, to have a total of maybe seven minutes of worthwhile moments during a near 90 minute run time just isn’t good enough.
Don’t let the IMDB score fool you, it is definitely far higher than it should be.