B*stard finds a pair of serial killers on their honeymoon picking up two young hitchhikers running away from an abusive home. Together, they all head to a remote bed and breakfast in the mountains where, along with the B&B’s owner and a local suicidal cop, they start falling victim to a masked killer lurking nearby. But is the killer actually one of them?
Returning from a five-year hiatus and with a new partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, the After Dark Horrorfest is back with a new crop of “8 Films to Die For.” All the films were released in select theaters and on VOD October 16, 2015, with a DVD release date of October 27, 2015.
Compared to the other 8 Films to Die For, B*stard is of a completely different breed. The script is a strange but compelling combination of black humor, drama, and horror, with glimpses of real character study next to moments of gruesome bleakness. The different groups of characters all feel like they could be playing in their own separate movie, but when they converge, they fit in well together–and they all make for great red herrings as to who the killer is. The horror element of the film almost gets in the way of the development, because you want to spend more time with these non-traditional slasher characters and learn more about them and their backgrounds and motivations.
The two female leads are really the standout performances of the film. Ellis Greer as Hannah, one of the serial killers along with her husband West, is a no-nonsense woman with a fiery attitude to match her red hair. She’s rude and mean, and while this might make her seem like the least likable character of the bunch, it was the opposite for me. Her unfiltered dialogue and reactions to situations that she’s not happy to be in provide a lot of the humor in the script, even if it’s just Greer giving the perfect look to show her distaste. Her relationship to West is like that of Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers, and though West seems like the more demented one, you can see something in Hannah where you know that she is capable of the same brutality. She also has moments of her own kind of sympathy for other characters, which gives Hannah a lot more depth.
In contrast to Hannah is Rebekah Kennedy as Betty, who is taken out of her abusive situation at home by Jake. Betty is meek and mild, a sweet girl obviously severely affected by whatever has happened to her in the past. Her personality and thin frame make her look like easy pickings for the more violent people around her, but she definitely steps up when put in danger, and she doesn’t shrink away like you would expect her to. Her character arc is the most interesting one to watch develop because she eventually goes places that you would have never thought possible from when she is first introduced. Betty’s counterpart Jake is perhaps more underdeveloped, though he shows real compassion and concern for Betty.
In true slasher form, the deaths in B*stard are nicely graphic and bloody. This is presented in the opening scene when we are introduced to Hannah and West. The kill comes quick and brutal, with a nice hard cut to the title screen, and things only get worse after that. There’s a great kill to a secondary character when his back is cut open and his spine is ripped out, and another one where somebody’s mouth is given a gory Glasgow smile with a cleaver. The story makes a complete 180-degree turn when the killer is revealed, and there are plenty more gruesome moments after that. This part of B*stard is a pretty disturbing story, but you really need to see the film for yourself to watch all that unfold.
There’s a satisfying conclusion to B*stard when all is said and done, but I felt like there was a lot more to the story that we didn’t get to see. A post-credits text graphic tells us that a new chapter in the story, B*stard Reborn, is coming soon, so hopefully the filmmakers can make this happen and explore the crazy world they’ve created much further. If you’re looking for a horror film that’s a bit off the beaten track from everything else out there, B*stard is definitely one to check out.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Powell Robinson, Patrick Robert Young
Writer: Patrick Robert Young
Stars: Rebekah Kennedy, Ellis Greer, Dan Creed, Will Tranfo
Studio/ Production Co: Big Bad Film, After Dark Films
Length: 82 minutes