The first rule of writing a horror film is to avoid major exposition in the last act. Beyond identifying the killer or explaining the source of a haunting (or like mystery), exposition that late in the running time bogs the film down. The second rule of writing a horror film is to avoid putting all your energy in a twist ending. If the film up to the last five minutes doesn’t work, a twist ending won’t save it. The third rule of writing a horror film is to make sure any twist ending is connected to what has come before it.
Bane from writer/director/producer James Eaves fails on all three accounts. What starts as a pale imitation of Saw–four women wake up locked in an electrified cell before being subjected to bizarre experiments–turns into a meandering and meaningless exploration or nothing in particular. Is it a timed slasher film? A paranoid one room chiller? A low budget thriller? A dark mystery with a secret decoder ring? Bane is all of those and none of those because nothing is focused on long enough to have an impact.
There is a three minute scene roughly halfway through the film that works. That is it. Eventually, the characters discover that whoever has a number carved into their body will die at that time. One of the victims becomes obsessed with the clock, going so far as to count the seconds until her death when a cellmate breaks the clock in an effort to stop their fates. It’s a tense moment sold by the only competent actor in the film. If it appeared in a film that was halfway decent, that scene would be enough to recommend a viewing.
Bane wishes it was halfway decent. It is a failure at all levels of filmmaking. From horrible editing to terrible camera filters, James Eaves seems dedicated to making Bane unwatchable. For him (I’m sure), the shocking violence and twist is enough to make this a killer film. It’s not.
A good film needs a screenplay that holds consistent to its own logic. It needs good camera work for the context of the film. It needs to be miked and lit well enough so you can hear and see everything. It needs editing that lines up the action the audience is supposed to see and filters that don’t make everyone’s color change every few seconds. There isn’t even a worthwhile concept hidden in the majority of the screenplay or the completely unrelated twist ending.
This film is a failure beyond my every expectation. I have seen some horrible films in my life. The Beast of Yucca Flats comes to mind. So does The Screaming Skull and Freakshow. The sheer level of incompetence in putting this film together starts to make me reconsider how poorly I’ve reviewed those other titles since I began writing about film.
Bane is only for the cinematic masochist. It won’t even please ironic fans of bad films. It’s not so bad that it’s good and it’s not campy. It’s just poorly done. You feel sorry for the film, not the characters who should elicit pity. I cannot imagine a scenario where this is a smart viewing option.
Thoughts? Love to hear them.