Stars: Mikayla Gibson, Trae Ireland, Omar Gooding, Reatha Grey, Joey Bell, David Brown, Elizabeth Castillo, Jamie B.Cline, Adam Dunnells, Bunny Gibson, Bill Oberst Jr. | Written by Jeff Rosenberg | Directed by Jim Lane
A trip to the store turns into a surreal nightmare when a college student is kidnapped by a deranged, dysfunctional family. Now Audra West finds herself trapped in the middle of the desert, and betrothed to Adam, the youngest son of the murderous clan. As a determined detective conducts a frantic search, Audra realizes the only way to survive is to escape. But even if she could get away, almost two hundred miles of desert lies between her and help.
Good god, how much does Betrothed want to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Much like Rob Zombie used the freakish family format for his film The Devils Rejects and The House of 1000 Corpses; director Jim Lane and writer Jeff Rosenberg pilfer the strange, twisted, family dynamic of Tobe Hooper’s classic for their tale. Thankfully, like Hooper, Lane and co. also cast a strong female lead in actress Mikayla Gibson who – like the best final girls – manages to hold the audience attention and carry the film (and crack a twisted joke or two).
Which is a good thing in this case, for Betrothed is packed with amateur-hour acting and, sadly, unlike TCM and co. the film focuses more on the police investigation of Audra’s disappearance than the weird family at the centre of the story. Well I say weird but in reality the killer-cabal, who like to kidnap women for fun (and marriage), are just a couple of good-old-boys and their deranged mother Ginnie – a mother who rules the roost and actually does most of the killing when their sons “wives” don’t live up to her standard!
For those keeping score, Betrothed features a killer family; an evil matriarch; the kidnapping, rape and torture of women. All the film needs is to throw in a chainsaw and the Hooper-homage is complete. Oh, what’s that? One of the family members chops up his no-longer-wanted wife with one? Ahhh… The circle is complete.
Sadly, for a film that seems to want to be in the same pantheon as the aforementioned backwoods horror classics, Betrothed commits the ultimate sin: it spends too much time talking and not enough time trying to scare. And then when it does “try”. Well, lets just say that Lane’s film goes from dull horror to laughably camp – looking and feeling like a spoof of the very thing it’s trying to pastiche.
Betrothed hits VOD in the US in July, courtesy of Osiris Entertainment.
P.S. Notice how I haven’t mentioned Bill Oberst Jr. yet? That’s because his role in the film is as much of a footnote in the film as this sentence is in this review.