Sunday, January 10, 2010
Director: Barbara Stepansky
Writers: Alison Lee Bingeman and Barbara Stepansky
Starring Melora Walters, William Mapother, Johanna Braddy, Sofia Vassilieva, Jackson Rathbone, Ava Gaudet and Cameron Goodman
The genre of the "bad seed" child has a long and storied career in the horror genre. Beginning with The Bad Seed going all the way to last year's Orphan. Hurt is the latest incarnation of this plot device and it does a very compelling job of making a good film out of it. The film is solidly structured and at first starts out as a family divided and trying to move on with their lives after a tragic loss in the family. Then it dovetails into a unwanted new mouth to feed brought into the family, that at first seems very thankful but it gradually turns into something malevolent and opportunistic. The film I structured very well with a great cast and a solid story. Sarah the unwanted addition to the family at first gains the viewers sympathy but soon she twists it and gets all the family fighting against each other, with none of them knowing that Sarah is behind all of it. This is a small independent film, but with its small budget it really pays off. This is by far one of the better independent horror films I have seen .
The plot basics are this, in the rural and arid desert of Arizona we meet the Coltrane family. Helen (Walters) has just lost her husband, Robert in a apparent accident and is taking her teenage children, Conrad and Lenore (Rathbone and Braddy) in tow to live with her husband's long estranged brother, Darryl (Mapother) until she is able to get back on her feet. They are trying to get settled in when a new problem arises as a social worker introduces Helen to Sarah (Vassilieva) a abused girl that Robert was trying to help. One of his final wishes was for Helen to take the girl in. At first, Helen seems to take a shine to her, but it soon becomes apparent that Sarah has issues and she has a ulterior motive for being there and it will not end well for the Coltrane family. She has a vendetta against the family and the question is will Helen and her children survive the onslaught of Sarah?
This is a exceptionally well done film. The direction by Stepmansky is very taut. At first the film seems like any typical drama about the fractured family trying to cope and survive with loss. Once Sarah enters the picture the film turns very dark very quickly. It is a quick transition and she handles it very well. She sets up the trap scenes in the film very adroitly too. The script is solid as well. The viewer really gets a feel for all the characters, all of their foibles and weaknesses are on full display and will be exploited very well by the attacks by Sarah. The character of Darryl is especially troublesome, and you never gain any sympathy for him. At times you get the feeling you are being steered to him as the problem but it is just a use of misdirection in the film. Sarah is a character your really love to hate as the film progresses and you really want her to get her just desserts as the film reaches its climax. The cast is excellent. Walters is great as the shaken mother, who is weak but must find a inner strength if she is going to survive this ordeal. One thing I really liked about her character was how her suffering with diabetes was a integral part of the plot. Mapother as always feels very scummy as Darryl and he does this performance flawlessly. Vassilieva as Sarah is a character you love to hate and she seems to really flourish when she reveals her total malevolence. I expect to see much more of her as her career progresses. The SFX and effects are great, I especially loved the scene where Conrad's girlfriend gets impaled. It is very bloody and quite the WTF moment. If you enjoy "bad seed" types of films definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 4 out of 5