A good solid rule for most movies is, “Make sense.” Even the most avant of garde films makes sense in their own kind of way. If a film doesn’t have a claim to that particular edgy conceit, then one would think it would be that much easier to follow that simple directive.
However, it’s something that “Rites of Spring” fails within its first ten seconds.
I never recovers.
What you get are two seemingly unrelated tales – one about a pair of young women (Anessa Ramsey and Hannah Bryan) abducted by a mysterious stranger (Marco St. John literally credited as The Stranger), the other about a group (AJ Bowen, Sonny Marinelli, Andrew Breland and Katherine Randolph) planning to kidnap a rich man’s daughter. These two threads are clumsily woven together into a virtually logic free tapestry that sees all of them threatened by a murderous creature.
The feature film debut from writer/director Padraig Reynolds is beyond disappointing, bordering on downright insulting. During the opening seconds, we are treated to a poorly worded card poorly explaining the premise. And while it may be the latent “internet grammar nazi” in me to find fault with that, the next seven minutes introduce us to the victims. As I’ve said before, a tendency with some horror films is not to give us actual characters, but only “victims” – simulacra provided for the sole purpose of purpose of running, screaming and dying. That’s all we get here. If that were the only failing, there’s still a chance the movie could be enjoyable.
Unfortunately, it’s not.
Couple that with a decided lack of logic – either internal or external – bad dialogue and the fact that every character presented is dumber than the proverbial bag of hammers and the product never once comes close to being unintentionally funny or even accidentally entertaining. Some parts even feel like they are trying to mimic scenes from other, better made films but seem to lack the understanding of what makes the scene works, much like a child copying the actions of a parent. At best, it’s cliché. At worst, eye-rollingly ridiculous.
Visually, the film is unremarkable and they get plenty of mileage from the “now-you-see-them-now you don’t” trope common in many genre films. The performances are hard for me to grade since I’m not sure if it’s the quality of the actors or the quality of the script that does not let me buy into the story. Gorehounds would do well to pass on this one since the blood is relatively sparse
“Rites of Spring” is a movie that fails on almost every level. As much as I hate to say this about any film, it’s one genre fans should avoid. It only makes sense.