Bride Of Violence


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bride Of Violence
"Wilde gives the strongest performance of the three and it's her slow transformation that provides the emotional heart of the film."

Kate (Brooklyn Wilde) and Dennis (Dylan Bronte) are engaged. In a few months they'll be married, but as Christians who have vowed not to have sex until that happens, they're finding the waiting hard. Their pastor is worried when they plan to go out into the wilderness to spend the weekend camping with no chaperone present. Dennis assures him that they'll do the right thing but Kate, in fact, has been hoping to persuade him to relax his vow. She's also keen to go adventuring whilst he feels increasing uncomfortable, especially upon making contact with locals. He hasn't told her that he's been having Apocalyptic visions involving her, the Devil, and a great deal of blood. What at first seemed to promise a sweet, blissful union now sees each of them obscurely threatened by the other - and that's before they fall prey to an escaped convict with a vicious agenda of his own.

Travis Mills' adaptation of Lawrence Block's short story is his strongest film to date, evoking a particular strain of Seventies horror rarely encountered today. The flattened effect that's often a problem in his work here becomes an asset, adding to the surreal character of the story: the young couple with their carefully cultivated, studiously civilised values suddenly faced with the brutality of nature, including the nature of man. The story centres on Dennis, whose only means of reasserting control brings him into perilously close contact with the impulses that lie behind those disturbing visions, but Kate, literally in the background for much of the running time, is also changing. Over the course of a few short hours we see the course their marriage might have taken as she comes to understand more about what he is and he reveals the limits of his awareness of her humanity.

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As the convict, Richard Anderson isn't scary in the usual way. He has a self-congratulatory way of laughing that makes him seem like a spoiled nine-year-old, but he also has a knife, and the young couple are simply out of their depth - they have no sense of their own agency. Kate, in particular, gives the impression of being one of those Christian women who has been taught all her life to look to men for direction. Though she seems the most helpless, a passive victim, there's a sense that her experience has woken up something inside her so that she is gradually becoming aware of her own potential. Wilde gives the strongest performance of the three and it's her slow transformation that provides the emotional heart of the film.

The film looks rough, but aside from a few jarring transitions it's serviceable enough and rather suits the theme. A central torture scene is handled well (Bronte is not a great actor but portrays pain more convincingly than most), largely because Mills appreciates that in this context, less is more. He saves the best for last, with a post-climactic tableau that puts everything else in perspective; it's rather a shame that the final shot could act as a spoiler (showing us who got away) because otherwise it's classic poster material. Uneven though it is, this oddly atmospheric film suggests that Mills has finally found his voice.

Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2018
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A young Christian couple who are about to be married are terrorised by an escaped convict in a remote wilderness.

Director: Travis Mills

Writer: Travis Mills, based on the short story by Lawrence Block

Starring: Dylan Bronte, Porsche Lynn, Richard Anderson

Year: 2018

Country: US


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