Bane is one whacked-out, overlong low-budget horror movie that works and strains mightily over the course of 105 minutes. You might even say it works too hard. Further complicated by a weird message and a pair of late twists, the movie struggles to find its niche, while a bunch of teeth-gritting performances stretch nerves to the breaking point. It's an odd experiment that does a lot with a little, but as that 'a lot' becomes 'too much', viewers will wonder if writer/director James Eaves shouldn't have pulled back a little bit.
Budget sets - pretty much limited to industrial animal cages draped in plastic sheeting - greet four women who have been captured and drugged by mysterious masked types in surgical outfits. Our heroines suffer from amnesia, getting little to no information from their captors, who hook them up to brain monitors while grilling them with inane questions. Only nightmares and the occasional masked freak slashing and torturing break up the monotony. After a while - a long, long while - all mysteries are solved, and you won't believe your eyes.
The good and bad are rolled into one. Primarily, if Eaves finds ways to create atmosphere on a budget, he milks it for much more than its worth. Seemingly endless scenes of mysterious silhouettes walking around behind those plastic sheets work for a bit, and then become numbing. Cool practical effects involving one the movie's more unique characters first inspire a little Lovecraftian dread, before becoming so overused that you realize that's all they've got. What's most fun for a certain segment of the audience is a series of splashy, super-cheap gore effects. When these ladies get sprayed with blood, they really get sprayed. But even that's a bit of a problem since the movie presents itself as a psychological thriller first, before it begins occasionally tossing out inappropriate gore scenes. Lastly, if you're at all offended by props comprised of circuit boards glued onto the outside of boxes, then you'll be thoroughly offended here.
Eaves continues to overuse marginal techniques throughout. Any line worth reading is read numerous times. Visual motifs, such as medium close-ups of centrally framed faces are soundly abused, and any other trope, new or old, is given plenty of play in a horribly calculated attempt at overemphasis through padding. Harder to swallow is the stylistic attempt to film our four heroines in the most unflattering way possible. As all characters, in their anger and confusion, are crafted to be as irritating as possible, this double whammy means you won't give a rip about who lives or dies, nor why they are trapped in the first place. In fact about a full hour of the movie consists of these unlikable characters pathetically whimpering, whining, crying, and screaming. It's an ordeal for characters and viewers alike. (On a sexist side note, if these ladies weren't wearing tight grey T-shirts and uplifting brassieres, there would be nothing to enjoy in this film at all.)
Finally, there are two twists, one that makes absolutely no sense at all, and one of weirdly humanistic science-fiction ideology that seems to have little to do with the movie's thematic motif at all. Combined with minor instances of cinematic sloppiness, such as quick glimpses of dead characters breathing, brief CGI effects that fail to track properly with the celluloid images, and a pair of stupid slasher characters that pointlessly muddy the waters, and you've got a bizarre effort that's fit only for the most-stout of masochists to endure.
Chemical Burn sent us a 2.35:1 ratio DVD-R check disc, which doesn't represent picture quality of the final product. Colors seem robust, but I'm guessing that, like this check disc, the images are of just average clarity and detail. The funny thing about this disc is that the first chapter stop bumps you back to the menu screen. Hope that doesn't happen with the final product!
Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio in English also doesn't represent final product. Dialog, while voiced with English accents, seems mostly OK otherwise, though plenty of critical dialog, especially late in the movie, is clouded by stylistic echo effects, (for whatever reason) which makes it hard to discern.
An 11-minute Gag Reel, (more fun than the movie) the Trailer, and a four-minute Deleted Scene (a pre-credits sequence) are the only extras available.
James Eaves wrings every last drop of everything out of Bane. There is science fiction, there is gore, there is psychological drama, and there is no budget whatsoever. What should have been a 75-minute down-and-dirty exploitation movie bloats and bloats into an almost two-hour endurance festival with repeated motifs and non-stop screaming and crying from wholly irritating characters. Implausible twists at the end undermine the movie thoroughly, indicating that Eaves' reach - both thematically and cinematically -certainly exceeded his grasp. This will be the bane of your collection, so I'd suggest you Skip It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com