14th Mar2017

‘Bethany’ Review

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Stefanie Estes, Zack Ward, Tom Green, Shannen Doherty, Anna Harr, Leon Russom, Kevin Porter, Keith Jardine, Kirsty Hill, Felissa Rose | Written by James Cullen Bressack, Zack Ward | Directed by James Cullen Bressack

BETHANY-KEY-ART-FLAT

Married couple Claire (Stefanie Estes) and her husband Aaron (Zack Ward) have left everything behind them and decided to move in to Claire’s childhood home. Things are looking great for the couple when Aaron finds much more lucrative work than he’s ever had before, but things start to take a turn for worse when Claire’s past – more specifically memories of her abusive and foreboding mother coming back to haunt her. This triggers Claire to start experiencing visions and hallucinations. From seeing shapes in the dark, to her body seemingly being mutilated before her very eyes. Could she be going over the deep end or is there something sinister happening in her childhood home? Whatever may be happening, not even her psychologist Dr. Brown (Tom Green) has any real clue what is going on.

I was fearing for the worst with Bethany. You ever get that feeling with films? I had no real reason too, but when I saw that Tom “Bum Bum Song” Green and pornstar Tommy Pistol were in the cast of a low-budget horror, I though I would be in for a very cheesy affair. I kinda hate myself a little for that because we have seen the likes of Steve Carell, Adam Sandler, Marilyn Chambers and Ginger Lynn tackle serious roles in their careers. That being said, this isn’t exactly a piece of art or anything like that. It’s a run of the mill paranormal horror / thriller. The story plays out well enough with some genuinely disturbing twists and turns. I won’t reveal what exactly is going on, but the final third of the film is genuinely gripping and disturbing. All those involved do a great job and make the characters believable and relateable. You actually care not only about the characters, but what is going to happen. Stefanie Estes never goes overboard in her performance and Tom Green does a great job as the serious, yet little bit kooky doctor character.

If you are here for nastiness, you’ve got that. The gore – although subtle – is well done and there are some intriguing pieces of body horror throughout. That being said, there’s some pretty crappy CGI at parts and the worst thing about that is most of what is computer generated could have easily been done practically. I’m talking like the simplest of make-up jobs here at times. Thankfully, that never detracts too much. Bethany has a genuinely gloomy atmosphere to it and is paced relatively well. It never really drags or outstays its welcome and the finale especially has some genuine power to it.

All in all, this was an enjoyable enough film. Far from perfect; but in a very saturated genre, Bethany had enough moments that make it stand out. Highly recommend if you like your paranormal offerings with that psychological thriller edge.

Bethany opens in US theaters and releases on VOD April 7th 2017.

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