Five strangers - newlywed serial killers, a suicidal cop, and two runaways - become suspect and victim when a masked murderer makes its presence known in an isolated mountain town.
October 16, 2015
Patrick Robert Young
Powell Robinson, Patrick Robert Young
Rebekah Kennedy as Betty
Tonya Kay as Rachael
Ellis Greer as Hannah
We’ve seen some unorthodox films hit the market in 2015. Attack on Titan was wonderfully strange. Hellions was a complete mind-bender that I still haven’t truly wrapped my head around. Gravy was outlandish but loads of fun. There are some “different” movies being released this year, make no mistake about it. You may be required to hunt these beasts down, but they’re out there and they’re accessible. And they’re getting company; Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young’s 8 Films to Die For entry is a weird, weird movie.
The film opens with a look at a young couple hitchhiking. They’re a little brash (they’re young after all), but that’s kind of expected from two 20-somethings traveling the highways, thumbs extended. They’re also something much darker than just brash, much more menacing and threating than what you’d expect from a young attractive couple on their honeymoon. They’re stone cold killers and we don’t expect that for a moment.
Cut away to a look at a man in drag, clearly very distraught and disturbed (this is an angle of the story that is never thoroughly excavated, proving to be one of the picture’s more noticeable problems) preparing to hang himself. Now we’re scratching our heads. Where does he fit in? How is he related, if at all, to any of the other focal figures in the film, be it protagonist or antagonist?) It isn’t easy to initially figure out, and when we realize he’s also an open homosexual who works as a man of the law, we’re really left to ponder things as we’ve got a rare find in a genuinely complex, multi-layered character.
And finally you’ve got the young, awkward couple who just can’t take living under a roof housing an abusive father figure. They take to the asphalt, and like the couple we meet in the opening moments, they’re looking for a ride. But what happens when this couple meets our villainous couple? Is this a disaster in the making? Is more blood guaranteed to be shed, or will fate throw everyone a curveball?
The answer is, strangely enough, a little bit of all of those things. And the real bummer here comes in the fact that I’m not able to spill a whole lot of other, very pertinent details. What I can say is what we get from Bastard is totally different than what we’re led to believe we’re going to get. Somehow, as absurd as it may sound, this film eventually becomes a slasher piece, complete with mask-donning bad guy who likes to chop away with a meat cleaver. How we reach that final destination is a trip times 10, and it’s worth watching. Time will tell, but I dare say it’s worth watching more than once.
Of the six Horrorfest flicks I’ve taken in this year, Bastard is hands down the most ambitious, unique story. Robinson and Young (Young writes the screenplay as well) set out on an adventure that features tons of twists and turns, and every cliché element you expect to find in a slasher movie is completely done away with. If you haven’t checked out the trailer, you honestly won’t even realize this is a slasher until 45-minutes have clicked from the clock. But that’s not a product of a slow start, it’s the product of clever deception and strong character development. There’s a hook floating about in the water and we can’t help but to reach for it. Where it leads us is a welcome surprise that is very well played.
Being forced to be so ambiguous about a picture as spirited as Bastard is… well, a bit of a bastard. But you can’t ruin a movie that works as hard as this one does to be something atypical. It deserves the chance to shock you, and it will. In fact, it’s likely going to shock you a good four or five times. That’s something that doesn’t seem to occur too much these days, so enjoy when you stumble upon it. And while you take the trek, expect some strong performances (Dan Creed, Ellis Greer, Rebekah Kennedy and Tonya Kay all impress), a bold story, some risqué images and a series of killer twists that seem to arrive out of nowhere. Bastard isn’t a game changer, but it’s an entertaining independent film that gets it right.