14th Feb2023

‘Free to a Bad Home’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Miranda Nieman, Hayley Sunshine, Jake C. Young, Tyler McGraw, Olivia Dennis, Roni Locke, Olivia Barrell, Katelyn Nevin | Written and Directed by Kameron Hale, Scott Hale

Setting the tone from the opening, director brothers Kameron and Scott Hale’s Free to a Bad Home depicts a series of deaths which includes a hanging, and an armed man standing over somebody in bed. Throughout these disturbing sights are the words “Free to a good home”, shown on different objects before appearing written on a box discovered by a jogging couple. The pair continue on after rummaging through the box, although one wonders if their fate is already sealed.

What unfolds is an anthology, telling three stories about people whose struggles in life are worsened by cursed objects. The first story follows Amy (Mirana Nieman), a widow who visits her old house. Arriving the next day is her sister, Jill (Hayley Sunshine), who stopped by to check on her emotionally vulnerable sibling. Their shared scenes convey a believable relationship, although their catching up halts upon hearing a noise from the kitchen. As horrific truths close off this tragic story, this is a strong instalment to begin the film.

The second story follows Ryan (Jake C. Young), a thief who breaks into an unoccupied house searching for valuables. The tension is palpable as to what unknown danger lurks within, raising considerably as Ryan discovers a safe in the same room as a chained-up woman. She offers to open the safe if freed, although reveals the shocking ramifications if she is unchained. It’s an intriguing and tense story which works effectively as a self-contained piece.

What is less effective is how it transitions into the next story, refusing to let the follow-up stand on its own while offering lacking questions to Ryan’s tale. The focus is on Julia (Olivia Dennis), an addict who accompanies her friends on a drive to a party. Much of this story is mood, working best when conveying a sense of the ethereal outside the car as those inside travel under the influence. Apart from that, this is the most unengaging segment as it’s a struggle to latch onto this batch of characters. While the gross-out elements are raised with much vomiting and bloody kills, the chills and tension feel unfortunately lacking.

What works best about Free to a Bad Home are the loose stories, connected by the antagonistic forces tormenting characters while delivering tense and unsettling scenes. When the final tale tries to solidify the connections further and offer larger answers, the focus feels unfortunately divided. Regardless, this anthology shows promise for the Hale brothers.

*** 3/5

Free to a Bad Home will be available on Digital from February 17th, courtesy of Terror Films.


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