Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bates Haunting

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! There's a masturbation joke somewhere in that title...

The Bates Haunting – 1 out of 5

Whenever there’s a huge horror film that either makes butt-loads of moola or becomes a pop culture icon, there’s always a host of people who will try and leech a bit of the fame that is leaking from its infamous teat. Whether it be all the folks with GoPros making their own versions of Paranormal Activity on YouTube or the endless parade of mockbusters that The Asylum pumps out or the plague of low quality zombie films or that people are still making movies that connect to The Amityville Horror, people are always going to go after that already established cred and try to make a buck off of it. Hell, even those traps called "haunted houses" that pop up every Halloween will borrow and steal from famous horror films in order to get some cash from the drunken youngsters out to piss themselves over a Domino’s delivery boy moonlighting as a vampire in shitty makeup. One particular real life Halloween attraction becomes the focus of The Bates Haunting and ends up being a ridiculous way to get some press.

When you think of haunted houses, you think of...dragons?

Agnes (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) has the misfortune of having a name that belongs to someone in a retirement home but also has the misfortune of watching her bestie Lily (Aleksandra Svetlichnaya—you gotta wonder if she was the mail order bride of the director or something) die while working at The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride. It looked like an accident but Agnes never believed it, even an entire year later. It affects her personal life and makes her a basket case in the workplace. She can’t keep a job and no one will hire her anymore…except the haunted house. Once there, she is determined to find out what really happened that night. Her investigation gets a little easier when she is quickly shown that the death was, in fact, NOT an accident as other employees start getting mutilated and murdered. Now Agnes must find out who the killer is before she meets the same fate as Lily.

Captions and screenshots can NOT do justice to how bad Aleksandra's acting
was...and she was barely in the film.

If I was the owner and operator of The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, I would be demanding that my property’s name be removed from this film because The Bates Haunting is a very bad movie. However, judging by the fact that it never hit theater release or was even popular (and the fact that the haunted attraction is still in operation), I guess there is nothing to worry about with the owners. I understand why they would want their attraction to show up in a film because it gives the place cred and free publicity but, judging from the fact that there is a near total and complete lack of mentioning the 2012 film on their website, they might have realized what anyone watching the film realized…this movie isn’t good.
Strangely, the attraction didn't change their name after this was made...hmmm.

What really got me about the film was how the owners were all for showing their real site with its real name and seemed okay with the fact that the film isn’t portraying the attraction very well or making the owners seem like decent people. Since it’s a Halloween attraction, I understand that having it associated with murder and bloody death might be a good thing—fuck, I’ve been to TONS of haunted houses and, at most of them, the teenage boy, whose costume is usually nothing more than a hoodie and some green paint smeared on his face, will make the claim that "Someone totes died" there and there is really ghosts or the place looked so authentic that people shit themselves, passed out, or died on the spot because their hearts couldn’t take the obvious plastic skeleton dancing around on the piece of fishing line in front of the strobe light.  It's a selling point, I get that.  Additionally, I understand the drive to have your attraction be put in a movie that will be at all the RedBoxes in the country where it will rest until bored movie geeks like myself rent it out of pity and a desire to laugh at shitty filmmaking on a lonely Saturday night but I really didn’t see the film portraying this attraction in a positive, "I really need to check this place out" sort of light.  Instead, I see this attraction as the place that allowed itself to be put in a terrible, terrible film and I ask myself, "Is this place even scary because the movie wasn't."
I think the girl on the left isn't overacting enough.

How can you make your shitty horror film shittier?
Simple:  Add a Jackass star that isn't Johnny
The film’s quality is quickly established in the first ten minutes of the film. Whether it is the half-asses acting from the character of Lily (which only helps my theory that she is actually the director’s mail ordered bride) or the fact that the douchiest member of Jackass and his late tag along are in the film—in 2012, Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn were already old news and on the fast track to obscurity, so having them and their terrible comic relief in a horror film felt completely unnecessary and made the film feel like it had no idea what type of tone it wanted to set. This ends up being a motif that is repeated endless through the feature as it awkwardly inserts bad humor. The film is already suffering from a complete lack of a decent horror atmosphere and inserting jokes that would be hard for even the best comedic performer to pull off and make work only assisted in making a bad horror film with no scares, suspense or tension even more lacking.

If you just punched your monitor looking at this picture, don't worry.
That is a totally normal reaction.

Things only get worse when you realize that the character of Agnes not only suffers with having an actress who is incapable of having any passion or emotion but also comes off less like a person grieving her friend and more like an entitled asshole. I understand Agnes was supposed to be in pain over losing her BBF but she is rude to everyone she talks to and acts like a complete dick-hole the entire film. It was impossible for me to feel any sympathy towards her—even when she has to watch her friend die I couldn’t feel anything for her…but that was because her performance there was making me cringe.

I was shocked when I found out that she made noises and gestures beyond irritated
sighs and eye-rolls.

Bad acting is pretty much the name of the game in this film—however, considering the film, this fact wasn’t really a surprise but rather an expected element. Whether it is the laughable emotionless performances of the people in the opening scene where Lily dies (seriously, with the exception of Jean Louise O’Sullivan, all the actors look like they had no idea the director yelled "Action!") or the endless parade of flat delivery or the occasional overacting by the few who believed that GRAND GESTURES and RIDICULOUS DELIVERY was the way to go, all the players in this film—with the exception of one—come off either terribly or laughable…and, more often than not, both. 

Jesus, the actors can't even make being passed out drunk look convincing.

The only real decent performance came from Zachary Fletcher who plays Junior, the son of the owners of the attraction and the manager of The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride. His character comes off as a simpleton and Fletcher, beyond an awkward introduction, ends up playing the part very well and, most of all, very realistically. This character could have easily been transformed into a cartoon that is too over-the-top to enjoy or take seriously but he made the character a bit endearing and was infinitely more sympathetic than the arrogant jerk-stain that was the main character of Agnes. However, eventually Fletcher’s performance breaks down when the obvious plot twist comes along and his realistic portrayal turns into what you would expect from a Direct-to-DVD feature.

The only good thing about this movie...

Aside from the very obvious problems The Bates Haunting suffers from, like bad acting, barely passable editing, and weak gore effects, the major deficiency the film had was the formulaic story with all the obvious plot turns. Nothing about this film is surprising and, when you factor in a weak horror atmosphere with absolutely no scares, it makes a film that is grossly predictable, poorly developed, and very boring. Elements that need to be focused on and feathered out are established and pushed under the rug immediately so they will be forgotten happens a lot in this one. Hell, even the motive behind the murders is weakly established. This horror movie clearly wants to have some mystery to it but it also clearly doesn’t want to put in any effort that would actually make it mysterious and, instead, settles for the obvious and an ending that is seen coming the moment the film begins.

The only real saving grace I found with The Bates Haunting was the fact that I enjoyed Zachary Fletcher’s performance for most of the film. Besides this, the film is cliché and very boring. It offers up nothing new or original and is just an hour and a half of no scares and absolutely no surprises. In the end, combing the bad acting and filmmaking that is about on par with a first year film student, The Bates Haunting comes off exactly how you would expect a Direct-to-DVD low budget horror film that looks like it is riding the coattails of an iconic film to be.

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