Director: Carl Lindbergh
Cast: Cheryl Texiera, Matthew Albrecht, Alaina Gianci, Joseph Darden, Veronica Wylie
A group of friends on a road trip encounter an aggressive truck driver who terrorizes them before running their vehicle off the road. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, the group must venture out to seek help, unaware that they are in the territory of a family of deranged killers, including the ruthless Bunnyman.
Upon initial reaction, it would be very easy—too easy—to simply dismiss Bunnyman as a ridiculous, shoddy, and insulting knock-off of countless genre classics. After all, explaining to the casual person that the film is about a homicidal maniac dressed in an Easter bunny costume terrorizing a group of less than intelligent college aged students will surely elicit an “Are you serious?” followed by a howl of laughter. Certainly, the expectation going into the film is low and the viewer is fully prepared to be subjected to an extremely cheesy experience. However, Bunnyman manages to slightly transcend beyond the sketchy plot synopsis and, at least occasionally, create a dark and surreal atmosphere not often seen in low budget slasher fare. For this, it gains some credit. Unfortunately, these scenes come sporadically between less impressive ones. For example, the lengthy exposition of the film does a good job of trying the viewer’s patience; yes, an ominous trucker chasing and terrorizing a helpless group of kids is suspenseful if done correctly (see Jeepers Creepers), but definitely loses its impact after about twenty minutes. Couple that with the ridiculous reaction by the victims, and the film does not start off on the right track in terms of capturing the viewer’s attention. But if the viewer fights the urge to eject the film from the DVD player, even during the following scenes that have the character’s meandering about for what seems like days in search of help, past the scenes of the group arguing about their predicament, past an truly bizarre scene where the group encounters a stereotypical backwoods hillbilly, and past the scene where they plead for help the female driver of car they encounter in the middle of the road where, questionably, one of the arguments they utilize to try to convince her to assist them is NOT that their friend was murdered by the mysterious truck driver. In fact, throughout the film, the character’s reactions to the friend’s deaths and to their overall situation seems inappropriately lackadaisical, which is one of the elements that create the surreal feeling the film possesses. In one scene, after being told to locate a cabin to wait for help to return, the group instead fall asleep under a tree and awake in the morning, each in a inappropriately cheerful and joking mood, considering their friend is probably now surely decomposing nearby. Regardless, if the viewer can get beyond the rather lengthy and often times absurd first half, they will be subjected to a sprinkle of redeeming qualities that make the film somewhat standout among the countless independent horror films produced each year.
From the moment the Bunnyman appears on screen wielding his trusty chainsaw, the film picks up some steam. And while the violence is not flagrant as some horror fans may desire, there is something morbidly entertaining about watching a killer guised as a jovial Easter bunny gleefully hacking away at and torturing victims. There are also hints at real talent and style in regards to the filmmaking itself; a scene where the Bunnyman plays classical music where torturing a screaming, pleading woman, stopping periodically to be enveloped by the instrumental to the point of conducting his own imaginary orchestra possesses a surrealism straight out of a Tarantino or Lynch film. This is not to imply that the film approaches anywhere near the quality that these two master filmmakers are capable of, but there is a very disorienting effect created during some of the scenes that is interesting to take in. Unfortunately, though, much of the rest of film border's on absurdity and, in the end, suffers from pacing issues that are too pronounced to ignore. Moreover, characters, as mentioned, act stupidly and make decisions that are unbelievable. The acting is mediocre and not much is done in terms of characterization beyond the one dimensional stereotypes often times found in this type of film. Furthermore, the actors do not seem as committed to the material as they could have been and truly do not seem to know what type of film they are in half the time, which is distracting. This could very well be a script issue, but devoted actors could have brought some life to even the most bland script.
Overall, Bunnyman is not by any means a good film. But it is also not a complete waste of time because it does contain some very interesting stylistic elements and has a rather curious charm. However, it does have a wealth of issues that prevent it from garnering anything but a cautious recommendation, primarily for only fervent horror fans. Potential existed for the film, but it was drowned by a combination of careless elements. There are worse independent horror films out there, and at least with Bunnyman there is the opportunity to be amused by the fluffy, chainsaw wielding rabbit that just may be cause to not look at Easter the same again.
Fright Meter Grade:
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