July 29, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Rites of Spring'

Rites of Spring (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

The art of the movie poster, or accompanying Blu-ray/DVD artwork, is becoming something of a lost art. A lot of this has to do with the fact that most artwork is now not art at all. There are exceptions of course, some filmmakers and companies still do put a little effort into this area of the movie, and quite often the results can be stunning. Director, Padraig Reynolds’ movie Rites of Spring is one such film that I was drawn to purely by its striking artwork. It has that wonderful dirty 70’s feel to it; the sense of foreboding is there for all to see.

However, just as we are told not to judge a book by its cover, the same can be said about movies. Rites of Spring doesn’t live up to the artwork, but it is not for lack of trying.

The simplistic version of the plot is that the film follows two story arcs, which eventually converge on each other. The first is concerned with the abduction of, primarily, young girls for sacrificial purposes, and the second being a kidnapping plot of the daughter of a wealthy family. Sounds simple enough, especially when I tell you the kidnappers (which include the rather excellent AJ Bowen) decide to hole up in the stomping ground of those doing the sacrifices. If that had been the case I would have been more than a happy man.

The main problem here is that by the time the credits roll, at roughly 76 minutes, there has been so much crammed into this film that is felt a little thin. The latter stages do pick up in the intensity stakes with the inclusion of a brutish killer who is known as Wormface, but I really would have liked to have seen a little more depth to the film. There are so many film influences here, ranging from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Bereavement, Children of the Corn, even The Wicker Man. I could go on and list untold more. This results in a distinct lack of focus in the film, which incidentally does look good and is put together well.

This lack of focus on the plot though, does rub off on the script and leaves the cast with fairly bland performances. Even the aforementioned AJ Bowen seems to be coasting through the film, without all that much to do.

The inclusion latter on of Wormface was a stroke of class; he’s a relentless beast and I would not have complained if the focus had been about him. As it stands, I do like the ideas behind Rites of Spring and some parts are nicely executed, but when you feel like you are being rushed through a movie it takes away a good amount of the overall effect.

As a feature length debut though, Padraig Reynolds has shown a lot of promise here. With a little fine tuning on the script this could have been far more engaging. Let’s see a little more flesh on the bones, before you start to strip it away.

Rites of Spring was released on July 27th theatrically and on VOD and On Demand.

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