Shudder to host BAD THINGS after Tribeca Film Festival World Premiere

Director-writer Stewart Thorndike’s second feature after Lyle (2014) is a horror-psychodrama set in a hotel that has seen better days and needs some upgrades – badly. Yet four people are en route in the winter to this hotel. Challenge number one is a fallen tree limb. One of the characters seems to know where a chainsaw is and lugs it over to help clear the path. Learning early in the film that one individual already knows her way around and the use of a chainsaw should get the audience’s attention. It did for me, but the overall experience with the film was not as intriguing as I had expected from the onset. I do not mean the film is not watchable, but it is undoubtedly something to stream from home.

Ruthie (Gayle Rankin) inherited the hotel from her grandmother. She has spent time there since childhood; thus, she knows her way around the property. How she learned to use a chainsaw needs to be explained. She has considered selling it and is pending a meeting with some people during the weekend. The three friends are ready to party but have agendas to hang out with Ruthie.

Cal (Hari Nef) is Ruthie’s current girlfriend and is persistent in wanting to keep and run the hotel together. This plan is not Ruthie’s dream, as she has mixed emotions about the three-story venue. The worst memory is being left by her mother to be with the grandmother for a few days – except no one was there. Their non-binary friend Maddie (Rad Pereira) has brought along Fran (Anabelle Dexter-Jones), Ruthie’s former lover – out of compassion for health problems – but trouble begins almost immediately.

Among the drama comes the question of who and what is real. Who are the two women who keep jogging outside or in the hall? Thorndike’s script keeps the viewer guessing about this and other scenes regarding reality and who needs a reality check. Fran and Ruthie look suspect but wait and see.

Overall, the cast does good work with the script, especially Rankin, who is very good at showing the range of emotions her character has with her family background. She desperately needs help before she can be a good partner. Nef is suitable as a lovely girlfriend who tries her best with an emotionally challenged partner and shows her pain very well. Dexter-Jones is excellent in the character that teases out Ruthie, yet her motives somehow are not clear. I look forward to seeing more of her work. Molly Ringwald is featured in a video of a hospitality industry expert, one that Ruthie can’t stop viewing. Toward the film’s end, Ruthie finds this character in the hotel, appearing to help. Jared Abrahamson appears in limited scenes, looking for Ruthie’s mama, but his visit is not welcome.

Grant Greenberg’s cinematography is good in capturing the psychological aspect. The film has the usual eerie sounds that wake the characters up and doors that slam clang, and open (usually at night). Eventually, we see a character using a chainsaw, and Greenberg has some good shots of the deed.

Rated R, 1 hour 23 minutes. Bad Things made its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be released on Shudder on August 18, 2023.
Source: Distributor: Shudder

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