BASTARD follows newlywed, hitch-hiking serial killers, a brother and sister on the run, and a suicidal, alcoholic cop as they get caught in an increasingly bizarre series of murders committed by a masked killer near a mountain-town bed and breakfast.
When was the last time you saw a good slasher?
That question was ringing through my head as I sat down to watch the aptly titled Bastard, which arrived through my post over on the weekend.
The last slasher film I probably watched was an awful experience, so bad in fact that I actually can’t even remember the name and the last one I did enjoy was The Final Girls, which took its own material and twisted it into a surreal meta fest ride that even Scream who started that trend in 1996 would be afraid to do.
On the top of my head, Girl House probably was the last film that took the Halloween blueprint and offered an enjoyable, daft but fun ride simply because these days the path of slash has been so well trodden on for many of years, writers and directors are trying to offer something new to the formula and at times over complicate what should be a simple A to B watch.
Bastard goes totally against that notion though. Here is a film that wisely offers something completely different, but still somehow never forgets its slasher roots. All I can say about this film is if Rob Zombie decided to pick up the camera and decide to do a Friday 13th origin, then this would be the closest in tone to his vision. Make no mistake, Bastard is a nasty and gory ride that takes many different paths, but always ends up with a boogeyman in a mask.
This story is not just set in a forest with a psycho holding a knife. The victims are also not your normal batch of meat for the butchery. The film’s tone is summed up perfectly in the first ten minutes when we introduced to a young couple Hannah (Ellis Greer) and West (Dan Creed), whose car has broken down and call upon help, only to be reveled as psychopaths on a kind of Natural Born Killers road trip.
Are these two the killers? Not quite, and when further down the road they pick up a young brother and sister, Jake and Betty (Will Tranfo and Rebekah Kennedy) who are harbouring a dark secret, and then the script chucks in an alcoholic gay cop, a B&B in the woods that has a long term guest who you get warned to keep away from by the owner Rachael (Tonya Kay), then you have an odd recipe that sparkles among the bloodshed. Unlikable characters on paper, but somehow it works a treat, this horror from directing duo Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young is something else, something different.
A few sprinkles of death scenes moves the early stages along nicely but its not until the 50th minute mark that Bastard amps the ante and its a delight. Nasty death scenes, twists galore and a sudden change of horror genres will make horror fans, especially Slash fanatics cheer in sheer delight! Watching a spine being ripped from someone’s back is one of the many treats gore-hounds can expect from the proceedings.
I am being vague as possible about the plot because Bastard delivers when you actually know nothing about it. It takes some dark and disturbing turns with not only the characters we supposed to root for, but especially as for why the killings are happening, even the brunt film title carries a significant message which you only realise once the credits roll for the final time.
I have heard rumblings that a sequel is coming and if it does happen then this is a brilliant origin story of a possible new monster that we can all watch and let our horror juices flow. Its not perfect, there is a silly scene involving a dildo that made me shake my head in despair, but apart from a few missteps. Bastard is a pretty vicious, thoroughly enjoyable and to put it bluntly, a bit of nasty demented bastard.
Well worth your horror time.
4 Hatchets Out Of 5