Bastard, one of the 8 films to die for, is a particularly bloody slasher that sees five strangers—newlywed serial killers, a suicidal cop, and two runaways—become suspect and victim when a masked murderer starts picking them off one by one in an isolated mountain town. While the film has some genuinely disturbing moments coupled with a few great scenes, it doesn’t quite find its feet until the last 20 minutes or so; but by then it’s just too late.
Where I think Bastard goes wrong is that it tries to do too much in such a short amount of time. It quickly introduces us to a bunch of characters that eventually end up under the same roof of a Bed & Breakfast, and while each of them surely have a story worth exploring, they never quite develop enough for us to actually care about their ultimate fates—the only interesting characters are the two people you can’t wait to see die, everyone else just sort of meanders through the story.
Character work aside, the film is gorgeously shot and it smartly throws in some awesome carnage early on to give us a sense of what the film is capable of—I mean, we watch a dude get his entire spine ripped out of his back. That’s just amazing. It’s a really powerful moment in the movie because it’s so shocking and unexpected, and it should have been just a taste of what’s to come. The problem, however, is that rather than using that spectacularly bloody kill to jump-start the narrative into mayhem, it totally drags in the middle half. And sure, there are a few okay kills and we do meet the film’s baby-faced killer, but it all just feels flat and lacks that real sense of urgency you expect to see in a slasher.
And it all has a very weird tone to it, almost as if it didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. Most of the film plays it straight-faced, yet it’s broken up with the most random shit ever like the slow-motion dildo fight scene. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty hilarious little moment in the movie, it just doesn’t work with the rest of the film and feels completely out of place.
There is some good in Bastard, though, and it shows up in the final 20 minutes where the real horror starts to settle in. It goes from being largely by-the-numbers to unexpectedly dark and gruesome, which was a welcome surprise after the middle portion of the movie. The final act is so head and shoulders above the rest of the movie that it’s almost frustrating, really. Had the film been able to pour some of that nastiness and straight-up horror into the rest of the movie, we’d have an entirely different beast on our hands. In the end, Bastard is equal parts fun and frustrating, featuring a few awesome kills and a wicked finale that unfortunately comes much too late.