In a perfect world, having parents means always having a safety net. No matter what happens, you still have a couple of folks who can give you emotional or financial support. Even if you’re a fully functioning adult, when your parents are somehow removed from you, your life changes. The scariest part is that you won’t know how it will change, until it happens.
The films in this entry explore the death of parents in unique ways, but be warned: neither uses tact in dealing with the topic, and instead favour what we all came here to see: exploitative horror.
BLOOD: If you wait long enough, you eventually see red
BUDGET: about $3,000
Like slasher flicks, the joy of revenge films is simple: you know what’s going to happen, but you want to see how it’s going to happen. I don’t care if it’s Death Wish 5, Death Sentence or Exterminator 2, if it’s about revenge, I’ll watch it, and I’ll probably like it… unless it’s Bleeding Through.
Festering in depression, this film of reluctant retribution centres around a troubled young woman named Lindsay who’s having a hard time getting over the death of her parents. To make matters worse, her brother is forcing her to move out of the family house, her boyfriend only wants sex, her professor is a creep, some local boys regularly tease her and her boss is a real jerk. Despite the abuse, Lindsay mopes her way through life, and it’s not until her only friend betrays her that she finally loses it. After a failed suicide attempt (maybe it’s because she uses a cheap Bic razor), she dresses up like Emily Strange and murders everyone who wronged her.
The acting’s not bad, the film is technically adequate, and the blood and gore look fine, but it takes an eternity to get to the good stuff. Watching Bleeding Through feels like you’re experiencing Lindsay’s life in real time – a life that’s mostly made up of sitting around, being chastised, and having mundane conversations. The actual vengeance portion lasts only twenty minutes out of the 80-minute run-time, and it’s hardly an adequate payoff for the preceding hour of boredom.
BLOOD: Hardly any, but none is called for
BUDGET: Roughly $11,000
Horror is rife with cabins and backwoods, but actual farm-based films are relatively scarce (Frightmare, Motel Hell and Slaughter Farm come to mind). Choosing a farmstead as a setting is quite the anomaly for a director’s first feature, but in the case of Sader Ridge it proves to be fallow with fear.
Inheriting her biological family’s land after the death of an unknown aunt, adoptee Sam and her companions – Mark, her ex-lover-turned-friend; Caitlin, a promiscuous pixie of a girl with sights on Mark; and Roman, a long-time friend of Caitlin with more-than-friend feelings – invade the forgotten farm just begging for turmoil. Joining the dysfunctional friends is Sam’s creepy childhood playmate, Eric, of whom she has no recollection. Eric, now the caretaker of her family’s land, has his own checkered past, teeming with abandonment issues stemming from Sam’s departure.
Predictably, emotions get heated and Sam starts having visions of her friends doing strange things: Roman crying hysterically, Caitlin reciting creepy prayers, and Mark beating Caitlin. All the while Eric lurks around and incrementally reveals the nature of Sam’s repressed and abusive childhood. Things continue to get creepier and creepier until the confounding and violent finale.
A creeping sense of dread engulfs the film, thanks in no small part to its beautifully bleak photography. But the mood is broken by a few of Sam’s shocking and weird visions that, for the most part, serve only to bewilder and pull you out of the story (especially when they inexplicably turn out to be more than visions).
What stands out the most in Sader Ridge, however, is the lack of common horror elements: there are no monsters, no ghosts and no scary slashers, but the film is still creepy as hell.
Bleeding Through is available on DVD through Alternative Cinema and other major retailers. Sader Ridge is currently making the festival rounds. If you are in Phoenix, AZ you can catch it at the International Horror and SciFi Films Festival, April 5th and 7th. For future dates, check their Facebook page.
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