Wednesday, 20 July 2011



Yet another low-budget horror movie in which a disparate bunch of people are trapped in an enclosed space and periodically butchered: it sticks pretty close to the so-called torture porn template for the most part and does nothing unusual or interesting. It's a particularly grim and visually drab example of the subgenre, it's way too long (108 minutes!) and while it may occasionally please the diehard splatter fan in the way it sloshes the blood about, it ultimately resolves itself with a thoroughly nonsensical third-act detour into other genres entirely.

Bane (unless I missed a garbled bit of exposition over the tannoy, the word means absolutely nothing and they might as well have called it Bicycle Pump or Cow) starts off with four women waking up with no memories of who they are or how they got there. They're informed by the mad scientist in charge that they've signed up for some tests but to tell them what the tests are would invalidate them. Every so often one of the woman finds numbers carved into her skin, and every so often a figure known as The Surgeon shows up and murders them with a huge knife. But why? What is the test? Who's the hunky guy? Will the girls get their memory back before they are all killed?

This is from the director, and several of the cast and crew (to judge from scanning the credits on the IMDb pages) of The Witches Hammer, a tiresome (and ungrammatically titled) piece of incomprehensible twaddle with Stephanie Beacham involving witches, vampires, genetic experiments and a comedy dwarf, and unbelievably Bane is no improvement on that. It's made on a pathetically low budget (you'll see the same half dozen names scroll up again and again in the end credits) in one location: you do earn kudos for getting a British genre film made but you immediately lose them all for making a bad one.

With just plastic sheeting and wire fencing, a genius production designer like, say, Ken Adam could make it look like anything from a medieval Spanish castle to the Starship Enterprise. But here, you'll believe that a cordoned-off area of a building site is precisely that: the entire movie looks like it was shot on the middle floor of a multi-storey car park that's undergoing renovations over the weekend. The direction is flat and uninteresting (the first argument between the waking girls is particularly shoddy) for the most part, but is frequently hideously overdone with sudden frenzied bursts of subliminally edited visuals. That's actually a charge that applies well to the Saw films (particularly the first one), but even the least of the Saws is more ingeniously sadistic and, incidentally, short - most of them are 85-95 minutes though Saw 3 is admittedly close to two hours. Bane runs 108 minutes which is way too long - you've only got four potential victims and one of them HAS to be the Final Girl so it really shouldn't drag on like this - most slasher movies would have hacked up seventy or eighty people given this running time.

And then there's that twist ending which I have to confess I didn't see coming. But mainly that's because it's got nothing to do with the rest of the movie: it's a bit like watching an Agatha Christie movie in which Hercule Poirot unmasks the killer as a completely new character. So Character A was really a ******** and Character B was really her ******** after all? Whoopee. For that to have any impact, I'd have to care and by that point I'd lost all patience with it. The beauty of the great twist endings, such as The Usual Suspects or some of M Night Shyamalan's films, lies in the skill of the deception and reinterpreting everything you've just watched. Here, the deception isn't so much hidden as non-existent - and worse, it means trudging through the first 90 minutes of Bane in your head all over again, only to discover that it makes very little difference.


You were warned:

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