Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #731
Number of Views: One
Release Date: August 18, 2016
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 82 minutes
Directors: Powell Robinson, Patrick Robert Young
Producer: Lauren Bates
Screenplay: Patrick Robert Young
Special Effects: Lauren Bencomo
Cinematography: Ryan Hendrickson
Score: Kyle Hnedak
Editing: William Ford-Conway
Studio: Big Bad Film
Distributor: After Dark Films
Stars: Rebekah Kennedy, Ellis Greer, Dan Creed, Will Tranfo, Tonya Kay, Burt Culver, Ryan Shoos, Nadine Arlyn, Micah Fitzgerald, Brian Foyster, Kelly Hancock, Emily Lopato, Austin Nimnicht, Powell Robinson, Bobby T
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Mötley Crüe “Bastard”
 Wu-Tang Clan “Gravel Pit”
 Kyle Hnedak “Bastard Theme”
1. a person born of parents not married to each other.
2. an unpleasant or despicable person.
I’ve always been rather fond of this particular noun. Forget its primary meaning as it feels a dash mean-spirited to call someone a “bastard” just because they were born into this world illegitimately. However, for those who make it their business to act without the appropriate decorum or kindness, there are few insults that rasp from the tongue quite so pleasurably.
Earning yourself “bastard status” would ordinarily entail one of the following – Pulling the wings off butterflies, farting in crowded elevators, poking your grandmother in the eye with your thumb nail, licking a frog having just consumed a sachet of popping candy, busting a gut at the elderly when they take a tumble, rearranging a blind man’s living room while he’s taking his afternoon nap, molesting a pigeon, taking a lumpy dump in your roommate’s pillowcase, refusing to flannel wash your armpits prior to a tug ‘o war, or not surrendering your seat on a subway train while the pregnant lady next to you goes into vertical labor. There are many other ways to become a bona fide bastard but I’ve decided instead to focus on my three favorite bastards from past and present in reverse order.
Once an NFL linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, Brian “Boz” Bosworth was never too far from controversy and earned himself quite the reputation for being a bastard. When a recurring shoulder injury forced him into premature retirement, “Boz” found a new way to make headlines, pitching himself as America’s latest action hero. Alas, despite his breakout feature One Tough Bastard possessing the most catchy title in modern cinema outside of Action Jackson, his career as a screen star never quite took flight and he was last spotted pulling the wings off a butterfly.
God rest his soul, how can we forget the effortlessly charismatic Ol’ Dirty Bastard of Wu-Tang Clan fame. Known under a whole host of aliases including Joe Bananas, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Schultz and Big Baby Jesus, Ol’ Dirty became known for his uncompromisingly vulgar and warbled rapping style and was believed to have fathered up to 13 ‘lil dirty bastards, before dying from an accidental overdose of coke and prescription painkillers two days before his 36th birthday.
It simply has to be Ethan Roark Junior, or the Yellow Bastard as he would later become known. Son of a senator and nephew of a cardinal, Roark was also one helluva son of a bitch and sadistic pedophile to boot. Preying on poor defenceless pre-pubescent girls before molesting them back at the family farm, he eventually received his just desserts after Detective John Hartigan blew off his hand, ear, and genitals at close range. After undergoing years of reconstructive surgery, he reemerged horribly disfigured, with bright yellow skin and accompanied by a foul stench that one can only assume was urine. So Hartigan beat said piss out of him a second time. You see, it never pays to be a bastard.
Moving swiftly on, we are congregated here today to pay our respects to the brand new bastard on the block. Powell Robinson & Patrick Robert Young’s collective full-length debut, conveniently named Bastard, is a new wave slasher flick currently doing the rounds and one that takes an unusual approach to leaving its mark on a crowded marketplace. You see, it openly mocks tradition while, at the same time, paying it reverie and is quite unlike most other slashers circulating at this present moment.
Right from the offset, we get the idea that Robinson and Young aren’t looking to play by the rule book. We meet newlyweds Hannah (Ellis Greer) and West (Dan Creed) on the roadside and they appear to be having some car trouble. After flagging down a passing motorist and securing themselves a ride into town, they go all Mickey and Mallory on his ass and it fast becomes clear that the pair are naturally born to kill. So they’re our resident bastards right? Perhaps in another movie, but here, Hannah and West could actually wind up being the good guys.
Next up we break bread with runaway lovers Jake (Will Tranfo) and Betty (Rebekah Kennedy) and there’s something ever so faintly shady about this pair also. Perhaps that would have something to do with the fact that, long before they hooked up as fuck buddies, they actually shared a womb together and presumably misunderstood their father’s advice to “keep things in the family”.
Making up the numbers is suicidal cop Michael (Burt Culver), whose penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing, taking drunken dumps in the backyard, and attempting to hang himself from the rafters has gotten too much for his gay lover to take so he’s looking for a temporary change of scenery.
All of the above clearly have some unresolved issues to work on and what better way to do a little soul-searching than booking in at the local bed and breakfast run by more than hospitable landlady Rachael (Tonya Kay). As a nice little ice-breaker, Rachael has organized an early morning ramble through the nearby mountain range and the five awaken bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for their a.m. expedition.
However, little do they know that a bastard lurks in their midst and it could be any one of them, given such a sketchy collection of track records. Said bastard is disguised beneath a baby mask but there’s nothing either cute or adorable about the manner in which this unknown quantity goes about their work.
Bastard fills its boots with all the traditional slasher tropes but somehow manages to come across as fresh and inventive in the exact same moment. It’s an odd little movie for sure, from the uneven tone and bizarre pacing to its larger than life characters and every last one of their dirty little secrets, something just feels different from the norm, whatever that might actually be. Robinson and Young certainly have the basics licked and one thing you could never accuse their film of being is boring. But it all hangs together a little higgledy-piggledy and some may find it a little too all over the place to get their head round.
That said, the cast give it their all plus pocket change, the eventual reveal is an intriguing choice and, while it takes a while to hit its full stride, there are a smattering of bloody murders peppered throughout to keep the dish spicy. Bastard deserves its audience, if only to show how easy it is to subvert slasher guidelines with a little thing called ingenuity at your disposal.
The final product may be far from polished and a little too muddled for its own good, but as far as first efforts go, Robinson and Young show more than enough flair and, more critically, defiance to make their next project well worth close inspection. What did you expect? That I’d tear them a two-berth new one for falling short of memorable with their debut feature? I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Things kick off with a hammer blow and soon graduate to full-blown spinal cord displacement. Lauren Bencomo’s practical SFX work is never anything less than solid and there are a couple of glorious gags amongst the carnage to gorge our senses upon. Toss in some pretty titties and any bastards along for the ride should feel more than adequately catered for.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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