Have you ever read about a massacre and thought, ‘well, that couldn’t have happened to a better group of people”? Granted, these are the kind of thoughts that belong entirely in the realm of horror films and not in the real world but they certainly apply in Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young’s Bastard.
Hannah (Ellis Greer) and West (Dan Creed) are just like any other newly-married couple. They share the same interests and have introduced game-playing into their relationship. Those interests include spree-killing across America, stealing cars and playing rock, paper, scissors for their next kill but at least there is tenderness in their relationship.
Jake (Will Tranfo) and Betty (Rebekah Kennedy) are runaways escaping a feckless mother and abusive father in a small town. They may or may not be siblings and Betty may or may not be pregnant with Jake’s baby but it is clear that they need to get as far away from their small town as possible.
Despite Betty’s concerns that something doesn’t feel right, Jake leads them head-long on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
And then there is Michael (Burt Culver). Suicidal and at the brink, Michael is a cop in a tiny mountain town and things are not going very well for him at all.
These five strangers soon find themselves at Rachael’s Bed & Breakfast, a luxurious little lodge located high up in the mountains. Rachael is as gracious a host as ever could be but who is the dark force slowly picking off her guests?
Gory, frightening and tense, Bastard is a classic retro slasher film that harks back to the greats like Halloween and Friday the 13th but there are three things that sets it apart from other would-be contenders in the genre.
It has a plot…
… and it’s really interesting. The situation with Betty and Jake is unravelled quite slowly and the audience is left to make up their own mind about it. Likewise, Michael’s battle with depression and suicide is set against a backdrop of a relationship that is failing because of that battle. Perhaps of most interest is the series of flashbacks that explain the killer’s own history and the basis for the murderous rampage. It is all rather gory with faces slashed in half and ribcages hanging out to dry but unlike many horror films, everything has a reason and is perfectly explained within the frame of the story.
The Acting is Really Good…
… and the characters have chemistry too. I loved the dynamic between West and Hannah and really appreciated how they were essentially a pair of alphas locked in a relationship together. There was no coercion or second-guessing with them as they forged ahead with their nefarious desires. I specifically liked Ellis Greer and would like to see her in more films in the future. Better yet, she has such a big presence that I would like to see her on TV – she definitely has the ability to carry a recurring storyline.
Burt Culver was also good as the conflicted and suicidal cop Michael. He has an incredible range of facial expressions and his struggle in the first scene we met him was almost palpable.
It’s Really Quite Funny
Apart from having an almost unprintable title, Bastard is a film that makes itself really difficult to write about. I’m going to give it a try anyway. There is a scene where a desperate victim (who shall remain nameless for the purpose of avoiding spoilers) reaches to grab the first thing available to try strike back against the attacker. The problem is that said victim is alone in the woods so what does he grab? A massive, bright purple vibrator that is then filmed in slow motion in all its jelly-wobbling glory as it smacks into the attacker and is (not surprisingly) completely ineffective as a weapon of defence. I laughed out loud.
Of course, the vibrator does have a perfectly good reason for being in the forest and that is explained earlier in the film in a particularly gory spine-ripping scene.
I enjoyed Bastard and spent a lot of time while I was viewing it congratulating myself on not picking out another dud (of which there have sadly been a lot lately). You know there are slim pickings when a fan of watching and reviewing horror films can’t find anything to write about.
I give Bastard an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans who like a side order of plot, humour and decent acting alongside their regular horror movie fare.
Not surprisingly, Bastard is certified 18+ for adults only and arrives on DVD & Digital Monday 8th August 2016, courtesy of Solo Media and Matchbox Films.