Rites of Spring: Film Review

"Rites of Spring"
Bottom-of-the barrel slasher pic pairs a mysterious boogeyman with a kidnapping gone wrong.

Padraig Reynolds' debut feature follows two arcs, one about a boogeyman and other about a kidnapping.

A grindhouse slasher pic that swings from dull to ridiculous without finding any pulpy pleasure in between, Padraig Reynolds' Rites of Spring is as anonymous as its burlap-wrapped boogeyman. Themes of pagan sacrifice and double-cross kidnapping combined don't generate enough exploitable novelty to make it a promising gamble, even on VOD.

One half of the bifurcate plot concerns a farmer who, once a year for over two decades, has been abducting pretty Southern girls and sacrificing them to an unnamed harvest god; after hanging them from chains in his barn for a while, he opens the cellar door and releases a big galoot with a penchant for decapitation. (You might be angry too, if you had maggots living in your face.) The other half concerns a kidnap scheme in which a recently-fired businessman unwisely agrees to help shady characters hold his former boss's daughter for ransom.

The first storyline's attempts to brew up Wicker Man weirdness fall far short, and the latter's soporific performances make it seem even more stale than it is. Then Randolph introduces chocolate to peanut butter: The girl intended for this year's harvest sacrifice escapes from her chains, fleeing through a cornfield to the abandoned silo that just happens to be the kidnappers' hideout.

That's not the least plausible coincidence Rites of Spring has in store, but even at its dopiest the movie fails to generate chuckles. More damningly, Reynolds can't imagine interesting ways for his monster to kill people: He picks the kidnappers off routinely, sans suspenseful foreplay; Reynolds's gore is half-hearted, too, though the pic's lack of MPAA rating might attract sadists hoping for something depraved.

Production Company: Ghostrider Entertainment
Cast: A.J. Bowen, Anessa Ramsey, Sonny Marinelli, Marco St John, Katherine Randolph
Director-Screenwriter: Padraig Reynolds
Producers: Wes Benton, Bobby Benton, John Norris, Eric Thompson
Director of photography: Carl Herse
Production designer: Mary Goodson
Music: Holly Amber Church
Costume designer: Kerrie Kordowski
Editor: Ed Marx
No rating, 80 minutes.