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The Sideling Hill

 

Cross Bearer (2014)

Cross Bearer (2014)
1.5
Title: Cross Bearer
Director: Adam Ahlbrandt
Writer(s): Adam Ahlbrandt
Cast: Isaac Williams, Natalie Jean, Victoria DePaul
Genre(s): Horror
Release Date: 2014

From the get-go, I’d like to point out that I’m probably in the minority here over at EHC when it comes to this film. I went in with no expectations, with which all I had to go off of were only a handful of photo stills and a synopsis. After finally viewing it I came away, to put it bluntly, underwhelmed and just flat out let down by what looked pretty damn great at first glance. Although in the back of my mind I felt as if I was being just a tad too uptight and strict in the standards that I hold a low budget independent film from the same studio that bought us the August Underground franchise, and that maybe holding a film such as ‘Cross Bearer’ to the same scrutiny as much higher financed films was just a little ridiculous. But in the end, I decided…eh, fuck it. After all, if a film like ‘Pieces of Talent’ can absolutely floor me with it’s almost criminal sense of creativity and passion behind it’s production with such a low budget, then I shouldn’t let any other film off so easy.

We start off with some actually rather excellent looking shots with an opener that shows an artistic integrity with it’s great symmetrical mirrored composition and dull dreary colors as the credits roll on. But whatever surprises of excellence this sequence may appear to promise, it’s all shattered pretty easily by some godawful production anytime anyone, well, acts. What’s readily apparent is a sound quality that just offends, as it becomes a chore to make out what anyone is saying half of the time whenever anyone speaks. Background sounds and noise interfere far too often in a shoddy effort at recording what seems to be a non existent script. Not that that seems like much of a problem, as from what I can make out, it seems as if every third word is ‘fuck’. It poses a problem in more than a few scenes for me, and we even get what looks like a few badly looped lines which in no way sync up properly, making things look almost like a terrible foreign film. The film quality is nothing special as well and at times looks amateurishly done (which yeah, duh, it is, being an Indie film of super low budget, but I mean there has to be a line somewhere right?) and devoid of any real thought. Half the time it seems like it was thought up on the spot where to place the camera, without any kind of care put into how to shoot the scene. This is all tied up in a shitty bow with some atrocious editing which is just choppy and possessing absolutely no flow of movement from one shot to the next.

As for our story, it’s pretty simple. Our main heroine Heather, is stuck at a sleazy job at a strip joint and is planning to rip off her boss and take off into the sunset with her lover and a metric shit ton of cash obtained from a deal she’s meant to pull off with a small crew of friends at an old warehouse. Sounds easy right? Well it might be if there weren’t a crazed religious fanatic on the loose who wants to rid the world of Heather and her colleagues because, I guess…they’re whores or something. I’m not looking for any kind of masterful screenplay gold here, so the simplicity of the concept doesn’t really bother me. The film is afterall, at it’s core, a slasher.

The killer here is one of the aspects that lured me into the film. The overall look and weapon of choice (a mere carpenters hammer) piqued my interest, and seemed to be a nice throwback to the slasher days of old. Unfortunately our masked murderer spends way too much time talking and is even unmasked from the get go, robbing him of any chance of appearing menacing or mysterious. All of this would be fine if the villain was to be developed as a meaningful character and portrayed as a human being…but he isn’t. Nope, what we have is a simple slasher who just spouts boring biblical phrases and smashes away at unsuspecting teen douchebags. So yes, I’d have preferred the old Michael Myers archetype in the sense of just keeping your mouth shut and sticking to the shadows while keeping your mask on as much as possible.

The other characters are kind of awful too. No one delivers anything remotely resembling a decent performance, and there seems to be no real script concerning dialogue spoken. Pointless throwaway conversations peppered with arguments, curse words, and blatant film references are abound and I just felt rather annoyed by pretty much…everyone. It’s not as if this is all new to this type of film, but Cross Bearer contains a certain level of amateur badness to make the likes of even your standard Friday the 13th teen fodder look like superbly written characters. Oh well, at least most of them die…

Which leads me to the highlight of the film. The gore! It’s excellent! I particularly loved watching the splatter fling across the screen, and the bloody goodness is easily the best thing the movie has going for it. Unfortunately the editing surrounding much of it is terrible and really shows off the lack of skill upon execution. Stunts such as collisions with weapons and falling down are quick cut in horrible manner and never look even the slightest bit convincing, and were it not for the deliciously satisfying gore, would make the film appear almost slapstick in style. There’s also plenty of nudity for the boob-hounds who are looking for it, which I guess is within that same realm of superficial entertainment that such blood and gore fits into, so I feel like I have to give that a mention as well.

It’s hard to drag a review for a film like this on for much longer than this, as I start to feel as if I’m looking for more wrong in it than I actually took away from it. And as much as a pretentious prick as I usually feel like when doing my reviews, I actually don’t like to tear films apart for lengthy periods of time. I just try to be honest and blatant as I can possibly be, and when a film such as Cross Bearer disappoints and bores me such as it ended up doing, I just want to get it over with and move on. So to wrap it up, Cross Bearer is just simply not very good. It wasn’t what I was looking for on my end of the Extreme Horror World and although I know it has it’s supporters and enthusiasts, I feel that for every Yin, there must be Yang.

I give Cross Bearer

3 open caskets…out of 10
(I’m trying to be cute with my score system, so bear with me)

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