Release: Friday, June 26, 2015 (limited)
Written by: Rock Shaink Jr.; Keith Kjornes
Directed by: José Manuel Cravioto
Bound to Vengeance is bound to suffer a short life of critical derision and audience dissatisfaction before falling completely into obscurity, and that’s kind of a shame. It’s never easy watching a film squander its potential and so quickly.
You’ve probably never heard of José Manuel Cravioto’s English language debut film, and perhaps it’s already too late. Horror movie bargain bins, make room for one more. (I think I just dated myself because of course there’s always Netflix.)
Let us not pack our bags and head to Negative Town quite so hastily though. Conceptually, the film has an advantage over many revenge thriller/horrors. A firecracker of an opening scene reveals a young woman is the captive of a middle-aged pervert, chained to a bed in a dingy basement in a house in the middle of nowhere. Rather than dragging the viewer through the backstory of how her life could have taken such a horrific turn, Rock Shaink Jr. (killer name, by the way) and Keith Kjornes opt to flip the switch on the action immediately.
Eve (Tina Ivlev) takes a stand for herself during what we’re led to believe is a daily feeding ritual, gaining the upper hand via a pretty awesome attack sequence. When she discovers there are more victims seemingly just like her locked away in other far-off locations, Eve demands her captor, Phil (Richard Tyson), help her set them free one-by-one.
An act of quasi-vigilantism soon turns into an eyebrow-raising quest for morality restoring and it’s not long before we begin to question why on earth Eve hasn’t just turned the bastard into the authorities. (The blood smeared on her face and the fact Phil now shows signs of serious wear and tear could be tricky to explain, I suppose.)
Execution radically betrays the conception. What is intended to be a role-reversal wherein the victim gains strength through her travails while the villain has the life force sucked out of him devolves into a thoroughly unbelievable charade involving justified murder, amazing timing and . . . (sigh) . . . . jump scares. It doesn’t help the performances weaken by each passing scene, becoming particularly cringe-inducing in the moments where they matter most.
Bound to Vengeance also lacks the gut-punch the trappings of its dank environs demand. Kidnapping, rape and torture carry the kind of weight that needs no further explanation. But the suffering is almost all for naught. The ending can be sniffed out from half an hour in (more perceptive viewers will get it right away) and from there it’s a matter of what routes we take to get to that point. It’s utterly frustrating, and the film deserves better. But . . . at least it’s . . . bloody?
Recommendation: Concept: 1; execution: 0. This isn’t a budgetary issue, nor is it really a matter of finding better actors. (Some coaching could have helped in that department, but for the most part Eve is a character you can really get behind.) I just can’t believe how disinterested I grew after about 45 minutes into this film. It gave the impression of a much, much longer viewing, and at 79 minutes that is some kind of accomplishment.
Running Time: 79 mins.
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