BASTARD is the second film I watched from this year’s 8 Films to Die For film festival. This is a slasher flick from directors Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young (Young also wrote the script) that contains elements of slasher flicks from the 1980s as well as new elements that elevate and make BASTARD stand out.
The plot concerns five strangers who all find themselves in a small mountain town where a masked killer is on the loose and is killing people in the most gruesome of fashions. Included are Hannah (Ellis Greer) and West (Dan Creed), a serial killing couple; Betty (Rebekah Kennedy) and Jake (Will Tranfo), a couple of runaways; and Michael (Burt Culver), an alcoholic, suicidal cop. They all wind up in the small town for different reasons and all stay at a local bed and breakfast run by Rachael (Tonya Kay). But in this horror film, the identity of the killer isn’t the end of the film. Once the killer gets exposed, the real brutal and disturbing shit begins. What starts off as a pretty standard, albeit well made, slasher flick quickly takes a turn down a very dark path. I’m not going to say much more about the plot so as not to give anything else away.
The acting is the first thing to grab my attention. When I read that two of the characters are serial killing newlyweds, I was extremely skeptical. But writer Young really pulls it off, and this is no doubt thanks to Greer and Creed. These two have great onscreen chemistry and never come off as comical or over-the-top. When asked when they met, Hannah responds, “We are high school sweethearts who found a common interest.” Greer’s line delivery here was absolutely perfect. They are believable as both a couple and as serial killers who simply get the urge to kill.
Betty, one of the runaways, is also a really well-written character. Besides having the kind of home life that made her want to run away, Betty is harboring other secrets that none of the others know about. And unfortunately for her, one of her secrets might lead to the death of her. Kennedy nails the character of Betty. She plays her with the perfect balance of innocent and burgeoning self-reliance. To Betty, the world is a cruel and cold place, but she is finally stepping up, realizing that, and accepting the world for what it is. Towards the middle and end of the film, Betty and Hannah develop a sort of necessary friendship (you’ll understand once you see this) and they serve as great foils for each other. Betty’s innocence against Hannah’s hardness plays out really nicely, and Young’s dialogue seals the deal.
Some viewers may not dig the twist the film takes and might think it too strange. I thought it was a nice touch. BASTARD, while enjoyable in the first and second acts, was pretty damn predictable. But after the killer is unmasked, everything takes a darker turn and the film itself takes on a darker tone. The killer is brutal–to put it mildly–and the first kill we see onscreen–when a bartender gets his spine ripped out of his body–sets the tone nicely. It was brutal and gory and well-executed. And if you’re wondering why the film is titled BASTARD, just stick around to the end. Everything becomes crystal clear.
BASTARD is a great addition to the slasher canon. It pays homage while at the same time offering the viewer something different and darkly disturbing. Definitely check this one out. 8 Films to Doe For 2015 is on a roll!!
Directors: Powell Robinson & Patrick Robert Young
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer