Bastard manages to give the new wave slasher film some real life and secondly it still keeps some of the slasher touchstones without coming off as a poor imitation. Powell Robinson & Patrick R Young have got it mostly right here and it is always great when a film can still surprise you.
The film starts with a sequence that sets you off balance. When newlyweds Hannah (Ellis) and West (Greer) have car issues, they flag down a passing motorist and due to Hannah’s charms he offers them a lift, after a quick discussion between the couple in which West wins a paper, scissors, rock game, the couple return to their would be ride and brutally bash him to death. The reason this is unbalancing is clearer later in the film. The other main couple are Jake (Tranfo) and Betty (Kennedy) after running away from Jake’s home, they hitchhike – which as we all know is a big no-no in horror films – and happen to be picked up by the newlyweds in their newly acquired car. Now the story veers to places you don’t expect and I won’t spoil it here because half of the enjoyment is in where the story goes.
The acting is pretty good all round but it’s the girls that fair the best. Ellis is really good as the very angry Hannah, the way she spits out her lines so caustically makes her character instantly memorable whilst Rebekah Kennedy changes as the film travels along and it’s a fantastic performance, that should make people take notice. The guys are no slouches either in particular Greer nailing the nice on the surface but bubbling away underneath West. Tonya Kay as the Bed & Breakfast owner Rachael, makes it her own with some very good scenes, however none of this would work if the writing wasn’t any good. Patrick R Young has written a film that mocks tradition but at the same time reveres it, turning some traditional tropes on their head but always with a nod (or wink) to past slashers. Young combines comedy (you’ll never listen to Ave Maria in quite the same way again) and satire (there’s a sequence that involves a TV and VCR that mysterious turns itself on, so that the audience can get some background knowledge, that is – in my opinion – a savage dig at prequels and some very convenient plot devices in other films) all wrapped up in the film without it losing its end game, there a few missteps but in all honesty they don’t make the film any less enjoyable.
The music by Kyle Hnedak sets up the film as well, using a retro (ish) style and great song selection that seems to fit the film precisely. Powell and Young frame the film nicely, working around budgetary constraints, this is mostly during the practical effects scenes, which are used sparingly but with great effect. The locations, especially the imposing B&B are used well and suits the film.
Bastard is a good fun slasher that knows where it is going and knows how to get there. Powell & Young certainly have talent and I can’t wait to see where they go next (once you see the film you might know where!). With the balls to make this film its own and go off the well-worn path I can only hope that Bastard gets to be seen by a lot of people, it deserves an audience.