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'Bad Things' happen here
'The Shining' comparisons aside, Stewart Thorndike's suspenseful new film offers little nuance in its ideas about trauma.
WOMEN DO BAD THINGS AT the Comley Suites, an off-road, three-story day inn that witnessed a handful of bizarre murders throughout the years. If the setting — a sullen, visibly unkempt lodging (only vaguely haunted by ghosts but most definitely by liminal decor) — feels like it echoes The Shining, it’s because it does. Stewart Thorndike doesn’t hide this. Her film Bad Things is all but advertised as an ambitious gender flip on Kubrick’s film, offering a female texture to the psychological downfall that Jack Torrance plunged into that winter of 1975. And where all work and no play made Jack a dull boy, Gayle Rankin’s Ruthie carries baggage that’s much more familiar: deep-seated childhood trauma.
Whatever that trauma was, Thorndike only paints with wide strokes. We don’t know much about the events that transpired in Ruthie’s childhood, but we get a fair estimate of the damage: Rankin, whose gaunt physique and sunken eyes seem always on the verge of collapse, brings such unease to her character. We discover anecdotally that Ruthie is a victim of parental neglect, but beyond that, the film doesn’t bother to color in. That’s a real shame, I think, with the type of stories that the film can pull from, especially with such a talented, queer, (mostly) all-female cast.
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Stream it? Your mileage will vary, and the second half kind of derails everything, but if you don’t mind getting lost in a smaller, gayer Overlook (Over-lewk?), then ding the bell and check right in. 🤔
ABOUT THE FILM
🛎️ Bad Things
dir. Stewart Thorndike | Horror, Thriller | 🇺🇸
A weekend getaway for a few girlfriends at a snowy hotel becomes a psychological tailspin and bloody nightmare.
Other horrors I've watched this week:
Here are the rest of my horror viewings this week. For real-time reviews and quick takeaways, follow my Letterboxd 🟠🔵🟢!
🗯️ Akira Nagai’s Character is such a trip. Shocking, visceral, twisty. Strong recommend!
🌳 The Fall is a five-minute jolt of dystopian dread. Short, true, but the creepy visuals lingered on for days. Can’t expect anything less from the guy who did Under the Skin.
📹 Found Footage is modern Man Bites Dog but without the curt socio-commentary. What’s left? Senseless violence enacted on women. Not it!
🙏 The Enfield Haunting is pretty good. Had more space for ancillary characters than the franchise-minded The Conjuring 2.
Upcoming horror films & TV
This week’s horror films you might want to add to your to-watch queue.
Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman is coming to PVOD this upcoming Tuesday, August 29th — read my review here.
😈 All Fun and Games hits VOD this Friday, September 1st.
Plus, some interesting trailers.
🔪 Chucky is back, baby!!! Season 3. Watch the announcement video.
🙀 Cat Person dropped its first trailer. Looks fun.
📼 V/H/S/85 is coming to Shudder, with a stacked lineup of filmmakers, including Scott Derrickson and David Bruckner. Here’s the teaser- trailer.
Field Notes From Hell is Deep Cuts’ weekly email digest. Dispatches go out every Sunday, with handpicked horror news, capsule reviews, and outlook on upcoming titles you can watch.