16th Jul2021

‘Bats’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Megan Purvis, Georgia Conlan, Amanda-Jade Tyler, Ricardo Freitas, Kate Sandison, Venetia Cook, Marek Lichtenberg, Nicole Nabi, Mat Sibal, Ellis Tustin | Written by Scott Jeffrey | Directed by Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca Matthews

What’s that? ANOTHER Scott Jeffrey film getting reviewed on Nerdly… anyone would think we’re fanboys over here! Well, to be fair, I don’t see too many people trying to review each and every genre film Jeffrey puts out – mainly because there’s a lot of snobbish reviewers out there who, even if they love genre cinema, seem to give these ultra-low budget British films a short shrift. Not us. Well me I mean. No matter the subject matter, no matter the budget I typically find something interesting in each and every one of the films he’s worked on. And Bats, surprisingly, is no different.

I say surprisingly because Bats sees Jeffrey return to a trope he used early in his oeuvre; namely making his British talent speak with faux-American accents. Which I sure is not his decision, more down to his distributors – in this case ITN Distribution – wanting a film for the American market. For Bats is very much aimed at the American DVD market, not only due to the use of American accents but also because this feels very much like it could’ve been a product of an American filmmaker – there’s nothing here that marks the film out as British in any way.

Plus, Jeffrey throws in a gratuitous sex scene early doors AND there are two rather graphic scenes of gore, flesh melting to the bone and an exploding head, which make this one stand out from his other productions. And unlike the recently reviewed Hatched and Medusa, there’s no sympathetic human story here; rather some moping around by lead and final girl Jamie (played by now-regular Scott Jeffrey collaborator Megan Purvis) that’s never really delved into beyond some hallucinations about her ex/dead (its not made clear) boyfriend.

Oh, and word of advice, THAT description on IMDb and Amazon Prime AND that image of a bat with glowing eyes have ZERO to do with this film. Zero. In fact that synopsis makes this film sound like some epic man versus mutated killer bat movie. It’s not. This is a small-scale film about a town that was evacuated years ago and some bats have mutated in the home of one of the former residents. In fact the synopsis reads more like what would be a prequel to this film… explaining why the house and the town was abandoned years ago.

Bats actually opens with three twenty-somethings breaking into a home for a party, Said home has been abandoned along with the rest of the village but these three decide its a good idea to use the place for their own needs. This is a horror film so it’s definitely not a good idea. After a few drinks the three retreat to the bedroom where the two guys proceed to tag team their lady-friend and take her virginity at the same time. Oh and one guy says he only slept with the girl because her mum was hot. What the actual f**k. I have to say the entire intro, whilst it does set-up the bats in the belfry story (well bats in the attic) it feels light years away from Jeffrey’s other horror films… Like I said in the intro, Bats feels more American than anything he’s done before and perhaps this is one of the aforementioned demands from his distributor – to add some sex to his usual violence? Or maybe it’s tied to the very 80s feel that Bats has? After all sex and violence were definitely the name of the [horror] game back in that decade; and given the soundtrack and 80s-esque hair and clothing the cast have you could say this is a period piece.

The film itself follows the aforementioned Jaime and her family who try to escape the titular bats wrath after Jaime kills one of the younger bats in the attic. Big mistake. That just made momma (or poppa) bat angry, angry enough to stalk Jamie and her family throughout the house and into a nearby church too… It’s a familiar monster-movie plot with cliched story beats but everything (apart from the American accents) is done so well you just go along for the ride. The only real downside? The mutated man-bat effects, namely the mask – which looks somewhere between the bad latex masks of Cupid and The Leprechaun’s Game and the surprisingly good make-up effects of Cannibal Troll. To be fair, Bats was shot (according to IMDb) between Cupid and Cannibal Troll – perhaps the make-up and effects people, like Jeffrey, are getting better and better with every film? It would make sense.

With the welcome addition of some much needed gory effects and a classic horror trope of killer bats, albeit of the mutated variety, Bats is a decent foray in familiar territory. A film that’s sadly missing the human aspect of Medusa and Hatched but still want that’s lots of fun.

*** 3/5

Bats is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.

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