Monday, January 4, 2016

Film Review: Bastard (2015)

Bastard (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...Bastard paints a new portrait of terror while paying homage to the classics."

At a remote bed and breakfast, five strangers find themselves stalked and attacked by a vicious masked murderer...

Bastard is an interesting slasher. For the most part, it's a throwback to classic slasher films, filled with quirky characters, nudity, and plenty of gore. The narrative follows a group of select strangers. You have newlywed killers Hannah (Ellis Greer) and West (Dan Creed), runaways Jake (Will Tranfo) and Betty (Rebekah Kennedy), and suicidal cop Michael (Burt Culver). After some decent character development (we get an 'okay' idea of their personalities and backgrounds), this group ends up at a bed and breakfast. To their utter dismay, they're picked off very quickly with brutal and often surprising methods. The film ends up at familiar territory, but it is executed well enough to forgive it – every film doesn't have to break new ground anyway. The actual ending is decent, but it's one of those endings that keeps on going. You know, you're watching the scene and thinking, okay, that's it, then it throws another scene at you. It's not really bad, but it felt a bit rushed and disjointed.

Bastard is a great slasher, though. Like I said, it is really a throwback to classic slasher films. You can see it in the visuals and hear it in the music. In the past, I've found this to be a problem when it feels artificial. Fortunately, Bastard feels organic and fresh. Instead of copying the old films and painting over it, Bastard paints a new portrait of terror while paying homage to the classics. In a genre dominated by incorporeal ghosts and shaky cams, I was also very excited to finally find a great slasher.

As a slasher, you probably already know what to expect: black humor, boobs, and gore. The humor is a little hit-and-miss here and there, but when it hits, it really hits. I laughed out loud during a certain scene involving a 'toy.' The gore was also superb. As a big fan of practical effects, I really enjoyed the visuals in this film. In terms of suspense, though, it never really felt all that intense, which was a bit disappointing. To add to that bit of disappointment, I felt the deaths were too cluttered. Some of the deaths are scattered and paced well, some are just way too quick.

The acting was good. Some of the dialogue was stilted and, like I said, some jokes fall flat, but the acting was otherwise more than serviceable. Ellis Greer and Rebekah Kennedy stand out, really getting into their characters. Burt Culver was also fun. The film is shot well and the music is great – a splendid throwback soundtrack. As I previously stated, I thoroughly enjoyed the practical special effects – this is how you do slasher. The film is directed by Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young; Young also writes. Although there were some balancing issues, those being with the cluttered deaths, the writing was mostly fine. It doesn't break any ground, but it was more than serviceable. The direction is also good, crafting a very entertaining slasher. I also enjoyed the duo's ability to create a homage without using nostalgia as a crutch – it really feels like its own film.

Overall, I enjoyed Bastard. It doesn't break as much ground as it breaks skulls, but it is a very entertaining slasher. If you're looking for something humorous and gory to kill 80 or so minutes, then this is for you. I think you'll especially enjoy this film if you're tired of the more lifeless horror films being produced nowadays. These gory woods are much better than that stuffy haunted house, after all.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, and nudity.

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