Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In short: BreadCrumbs (2009)

As if they had never seen a horror film in their life, a porno film team goes for a weekend of shooting in and around a picturesque house in the deep dark woods just North of No-Cellphone-Reception. It's the last porn our designated heroine Angie (Marianne Hagan), is planning on making before going out of the business, but the whole affair will go a bit differently than how she had hoped - and Angie isn't exactly Princess Optimism.

Unfortunately, the film people attract the attention of a pair of creepy and not exactly sane teenagers (Amy Crowdis and Dan Shaked) who have a complicated mix of a game of Cowboys & Indians and one of Hänsel & Gretel going on. Declaring the pornographers living in a house made of candy, the kids go about their business of killing them off. Patti, the girl sister, is also quite good at talking people into believing her brother's the brain of the operation, and herself just an innocent victim too, when a fitting audience like Angie (who seems to long not so much for a family, as for a family as representation of a life and therefore wants to believe in Patti as an innocent) presents itself.

BreadCrumbs' setup is certainly serviceable enough for another entry into the endless sub-genre of horror movies about people getting hacked up in the woods, and though Mike Nichols' direction isn't exactly riveting in its imagination, there are a handful of effective shots arising from a foundation of perfectly solid filmmaking. Surprisingly enough, the film doesn't even break down in its final act, but goes on as if nobody had told it that horror films are supposed to implode once the finale comes around. In fact, the problem phase of this particular film is the first act, when too many characters aren't always doing very interesting things (or worse, "comedic" things), and the film seems to wait for someone's permission to start.

The film's script is a bit more ambitious than that of many other spam in a cabin films. There are attempts at actually fleshing out the characters of some of the designated victims a little, and while nothing of it is all that original and exciting (would you believe it - the porn producer is a cynical bastard of the highest calibre?), the fate of two-note characters is always more interesting than that of one-note characters. Alas, only about half of the characters are this semi-interesting. Others stay grating caricatures whose deaths I'm only too happy to witness in a movie.

Angie on the other hand is even outright complex, outfitted with a past the film doesn't feel the need to explain in full detail because it trusts Marianne Hagen to show the humanity of her character through body language and facial expression instead of expository dialogue, which does work out nicely most of the time. There's some surprisingly nuanced acting from Hagen (as well as from Crowdis) on display.

A bit more problematic than Angie are BreadCrumbs' attempts at using fairy tale tropes to do the thematic heavy-lifting, define the kid's behaviour, and Angie's motivation, and provide a mirror through which the film's finale is filtered. It's a bit too much for to carry even for something that's as loaded with meaning as a fairy tale trope. I do appreciate the ambition of doing more than just paying lip service to the fairy tale elements, but I don't think the metaphorical level and the basic backwoods slasher setup really come together as well as they should here.

But hey, let's not end this on a negative note, because BreadCrumbs is that rare beast: a piece of contemporary backwoods horror that's actually pretty good.


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