08th Nov2015

‘Bound to Vengeance’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Richard Tyson, Tina Ivlev, Kristoffer Kjornes, Bianca Malinowski, Dustin Quick, Stephanie Charles, Nihan Gur, Vivan Dugré, Ric Sarabia | Written by Rock Shaink Jr., Keith Kjornes | Directed by José Manuel Cravioto

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If you read any of my reviews from this years London FrightFest you’ll know that there was a distinct trend of strong women running throughout a number of the films screened at the festival. Whilst Bound to Vengeance was not part of the event, it does continues the fantastic, and frankly refreshing, trend…  José Manuel Cravioto’s film also shares a lot in common with Last Girl Standing, in that it focuses on what happens AFTER your usual horror tale has ended. In this case, what happens after the final girl escapes her captors; asking just how does she move on from her ordeal?

Bound to Vengeance tells the story of Eve, show in found-footage flashback to be a loving girlfriend and generally fun-loving young woman. However that fun-loving attitude is at odds with her current situation. You see Eve has been held captive in the basement of a house in the middle of nowhere, “has been” being the operative words. For Eve has managed to escape her captors chains but not his clutches… Because her tormentor, Phil, is not just holding Eve hostage, he has a network of buildings across the State, all of which are home to more kidnapped women!

Now any “sane” woman would probably run as far away as she can and call the cops. But not Eve. She turns the tables on her captor, offering him freedom (and more importantly a ride to the hosiptal to repair the damage Eve has done to him) in exchange for leading her to the other captive women. That’s a red-flag right there. Who in their right mind would do that? It’s a question that Bound to Vengeance posits through the majority of the film – in fact her kidnapper makes her almost complicit in his crimes, often referencing her attitude and her behaviour in the basement of his home, as if to say she too is a killer, given that she survived and those locked in there with her did not.

That Stockholm syndrome-esque theme underpins everything that happens early on in Cravioto’s film, as Eve and Phil travel  from house to house, often without the outcome Eve wants. But whilst that’s going on, Cravioto and his screenwriters Rock Shaink Jr. and Keith Kjornes, fill in the backstory of Eve (through flashback camcorder footage) and of the situation she’s in. It’s a fantastic example of world-building within the short span of 90 minutes.

Speaking of building, Bound to Vengeance ramps up the tension throughout its running time, building and building to a tremendous crescendo; all heading to the final moments of the film and a fantastic scene in which Tyson’s character, Phil, knowing Eve has completed her “mission” and realising he is no longer needed, actually fears for HIS life. The look of sheer terror on his face, the antithesis of how he has acted throughout the entire film, is the perfect punctuation to his characters story and it’s a credit to Tyson that he can convey so much about his character internal monologue in just one look.

But as I said in the opener, this film is not Phil’s story, it is Eve’s. And it’s a story that is unveiled with a pathos not typically seen in these types of revenge movies. As Phil turns from hunter to hunted and the final piece of the puzzle is revealed to the audience… the chilling secret behind just how Eve managed to survive in the face of such adversity. And why, when faced with freedom, she chose to take her attacker on such a terrifying journey of redemption. It’s at once a real “a-ha” moment and and truly emotional one. And it’s all marked by a stunning central performance by Tina Ivlev, who manages to balance emotionally fragility with an inner strength, beauty with horror… There’s a reason TNT pushed for an Emmy nomination for Ivlev’s work. She’s that damn good!

Unceremoniously dumped into cinemas on a very limited release, here in the UK Bound to Vengeance is a fantastic genre picture that turns the typical mysognistic kidnap-come-torture film on its head, rewriting the rules on what would normally be an I Spit on Your Grave-style rape/revenge movie, to create an altogether new story, and one that deserves to be held in high esteem by horror fans.

**** 4/5

Bound to Vengeance hits DVD on January 18th, courtesy of High Fliers. Go buy it.

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