Synopsis: A group of friends go to a hotel for a weekend getaway and soon discover that women do bad things here
Stars: Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Rad Pereira, Molly Ringwald
Director: Stewart Thorndike
Running Length: 87 minutes
TMMM Score: (4/10)
Review: I’ll start reviewing the new horror film Bad Things by doing a visual exercise. Imagine that you are dressed in your finest clothes to go out to eat. You are picked up in a fancy car and dropped off at a restaurant serving the cuisine you crave. The setting is exquisite as you get to your table; every detail has been considered, and the chair the maître d’ has pulled out for you is plush and luxurious. As the waiter emerges from the kitchen with a covered serving platter, gleaming from polish, your mouth starts to water at the food you are so hungry to eat. The plate is set down in front of you, and the cover is removed to reveal your dish: a plain hamburger on a soggy bun. Sure, you are hungry, dressed up, out to eat, and have made a night of it, so you’ll eat the hamburger…but it’s not what you wanted.
That’s exactly how I felt while watching writer/director Stewart Thorndike’s Bad Things, which has the ingredients to create a humdinger of a scare but isn’t assembled in a way that audiences will want to devour. Each chef (director) can create their dish, but if no one comes to eat…you can’t stay open.
Ok…enough with the food talk. Let’s get down to it. Bad Things is not a great movie, but it has intriguing elements that kept me involved until the (very) bitter end. The good things are star Gayle Rankin (The Greatest Showman) as Ruthie, who has inherited a closed hotel she’s visiting for the weekend with her partner Cal (Hari Nef, Barbie) and their friends Fran (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) and Maddie (Rad Pereira). Ruthie’s past fling with Fran has Cal’s trust issues on high alert, but they are reassured by Ruthie’s plans to re-open the hotel she grew up in as a child.
Of course, there’s history to this hotel, and over the weekend, the friends will be haunted by not just ghosts from the past but by their behavior. Is the hotel making them act out of sorts, or is the isolation freeing them to try out their worst instincts? These interesting questions should have yielded 87 minutes of creepy twists. However, Thorndike’s strange dialogue and diversions, not to mention some broadly unwieldy performances, keep Bad Things from growing beyond good ideas.
If I can say anything to get you to keep watching this and not give up (it’s far too easy to do this nowadays), stay for Molly Ringwald’s (Jem and the Holograms) slick third-act cameo. Sharing the screen with Rankin, it’s the kind of crackling scene Thorndike needed more of in Bad Things. Despite a few creepy moments, the Ringwald sequence is the one truly good thing in the picture.