Rites of Spring (2011) [REVIEW]

 

I think AJ Bowen is just great. Granted, I’ve only seen a few of his movies, but every movie he is in he brings a terrifying intensity, yet there’s just something about him that’s still endearing. Maybe it was because I first saw him in The Signal and he had to combine moments of terror with comedy, in addition to the fact that he was pissed because his girlfriend had been cheating on him. Maybe it was his brief appearance in The House of the Devil that had such an impact and changed the tone of the movie so drastically. Or maybe it was the fact that in A Horrible Way to Die he surprised all the other characters and even the audience when, given the opportunity to kill the woman responsible for his incarceration, instead saved her life, that let you know there was a heart under that big, beautiful beard. Ya know what? It could also be because he kind of sort of resembles Paul F. Tompkins. Whatever the reason may be, I think he’s a great actor and try to check out everything he does, especially considering I read that he was trying to veer away from horror films and I wanted to enjoy as many of the ones he has done as I could.

 

How could you EVER be sad if you have a beard like that?

The film starts by letting us know about a small town that regularly has people kidnapped every spring, and then we see two young girls getting kidnapped. We then see Ben (AJ Bowen) discussing a plot to do some house robbing with his girlfriend Amy (Katherine Randolph) because of how down on his luck he is. We see the girls who were kidnapped, and some creepy dude is draining some blood from them or something weird like that, as well as stripping one naked and putting a cow mask on her. When we see Ben and Amy, they are going into the house of his former boss in order to kidnap his daughter, but things get a little out of hand when one of the other kidnappers kills the girl’s mom. Meanwhile, in barn town, one of the girls, Rachel (Anessa Ramsey), is able to free herself from her binds and tries to help her cow-masked friend, only to find her head chopped off. That’s when she kidnaps her attacker, but when she does, some sort of creature comes out of the basement and chases her. When she runs, she stumbles into the abandoned factory where shit is going down with Ben and Amy and the kidnapped daughter and her father who has followed Ben’s brother and people get shot and are double-crossed and HOLY SHIT THAT CRAZY GIRL RUNS INTO THEM AND NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON! From there, most of the characters get killed or are chased and AJ Bowen is accidentally killed by Rachel (bummer) and Rachel seems to wound the creature thing long enough to run away. The end!

 

Did Tarman have a daughter?

Yup, that’s how it ended, abruptly and with no real explanation as to what was going on. We never really got resolution with either story, other than one story resulted with all of the parties involved dying, and the other story had one of its characters survive. I didn’t mind the two stories that were going on at the same time, as they were both interesting stories and I thought the viewer spent an appropriate amount of time with each set of characters. It was edited together well, in that respect, and you always wanted just a little bit more from one story when it would switch to the other, keeping you engaged. The film also looked really cool, and some of the visuals of the farm and cow skull stuff reminded me of some of the visuals in Bereavementto the point that I had to check to see if it was the same director (it wasn’t). Once again, Mr. Bowen did a great job, and we felt a little bit more sympathetic to this character to some of the other ones we’ve seen him play. It was also nice to see him sharing scenes with his former girlfriend from The Signal, Anessa Ramsey. I’ve probably looked up Katherine Randolph’s filmography ten times now because she looks sooooooo familiar to me, and even though I know I’ve seen her in two of the movies she has listed, but it doesn’t seem to be clicking. That really has nothing to do with her performance in this movie, but I suppose that if Katherine happens to read this, I’d appreciate you giving me a phone call and reciting some of your lines from all of your movies to me.

 

This is your villain, who is known as “Wormface”, despite never knowing why there were worms coming out of his face.

Surprisingly, the story involving the kidnapping and the double-cross and the ransom money was the story I found to be more engaging. Sounds strange, because it sounds more like an action movie or thriller than it sounds like “horror”. I think it just might have been the look of the film and the way the actors were feeding off each other that it was pretty cool. The other story, which managed to incorporate sacrifices, cow skulls, worship of something, and a weird monster guy being locked in a basement, just never really came together. The creature, who shall be known as “Wormface”, was never really explained. We understood that he was being given blood from the victims to drink or something, but was HE the one responsible for where the kidnap victims were sacrificed to? We also heard the guy who did the kidnapping on Wormface’s behalf talking about some good crops or something? Who was being worshipped and what did that have to do with a wormface guy? And then, we just never get any sort of payoff. Even though I love cults and masks and skulls and Satanic ritual sacrifices, I kind of wished that we had just focused on the kidnapping story. But then again, it could be just because I wanted to see more of Mr. Bowen. Both of these stories would have worked a little bit better on their own, and I liked the director leading us one way and then throwing us the other way, but you never really got to release the tension that had been building up over the past hour and fifteen minutes.

 

Wolfman Moon Scale

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