• Review: Bethany (2017)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Fri Mar 31 12:16:25 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is a film of psychological and paranormal
    horror. A woman who had a painful childhood years
    before and who suffers from scary visions returns to
    live in the house she grew up in. She starts having
    increasingly violent hallucinations. While the film is
    tightly and tensely shot with some disturbing imagery,
    the script by actor Zack Ward and by James Cullen
    Bressack is not up to James Cullen Bressack's directing.
    Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    Claire (Stefanie Estes) had a particularly painful childhood
    dominated by her self-obsessed mother and with few friends. Her
    best friends were stuffed animals, some dolls, and her imaginary
    friend Bethany. She lived years in a big, dark, deadening house.
    Claire's mother treated her as a possession. What happiness she
    had was playing with Bethany. But Claire broke free of her mother
    and of the house when Claire was eighteen.

    In the following years Claire married Aaron (Zack Ward). She
    buried her past until her mother died. Claire inherited her
    childhood home and decides to try to forget the past and return to
    living in the old house. When she feels depressed, which happens
    increasingly often, she can talk about it with the imaginary
    Bethany who still lives or perhaps lives again in the walls of the
    house. Bethany takes the form of whispers coming from the walls.
    But this sort of friendship does not always work as fans of horror
    film know. Either Bethany or Claire has taken to arranging and
    causing accidents for Claire. Most fans of the horror film will
    have seen a lot of the ideas and mechanisms previously appearing in
    other films. For example this film is being released just two
    weeks after Ed Gass-Donnelly's horror film LAVENDER, a film with
    which it has many plot parallels.

    Bressack knows how to shoot the film without a reliance on false
    jump scenes or other "turn the crank" ways to get a reaction from
    the audience. Bressack as director knows better than squander his
    viewers' trust. He does have an eye for mood and color. While
    the real world shown in naturalistic color, the hallucinations are
    often reduced to heavy use of primary colors to give a dreamlike
    effect. In general the film is well executed, but just lacks the
    creativity it needed from Bressack the writer to set itself apart
    from so many similar nightmare fests. I rate it a high +1 on the -
    4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

    BETHANY will be released to theaters and On Demand on April 7.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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