A ransom scheme turns into a nightmare for a group of kidnappers who become victims of a horrifying secret that must be paid every spring.
There has been quite alot of horror films to arise in this last year. I have to say that even with the notion that “everything’s been done before”, you still might find some surprises along the way. “Rites of Spring” does take a step with a surprisingly interesting hybrid. Like the memory of a title card that we’ve seen before, the film begins telling us of the series of disappearances that occur each year around springtime. Now usually when I read something like this it means it could be 1 of 3 things. A psycho killer film about a madman who kidnaps and tortures, a monster movie (aka “Jeepers Creepers“), or a cult film that uses victims for its indulgences.
I began with this notion and had basically 2 (or maybe 3) of my guesses spot on, though “Rites of Spring” uses 2 main subplots to bring them together under one roof. There is the old geezer who likes to kidnap ladies and bring them back for a good ol “hang by the wrists” in the shed routine. If that’s not enough, he also seems to be housing some sort of monster in his cellar.
Ok, cool, we got the gist but wait there is still a whole big story that needs to take place. Crime drama? yep!
Ben Geringer (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Amy (Katherine Randolph) have it hard. They of course are not going down without a fight. One that will solve things for the moment (at least) by robbing his former employer Ryan Hayden (James Bartz) and taking off the loot. Ben contacts a specialist with the plan to kidnap Hayden’s daughters from his house and hold them for 2 million ransom. The idea is that no one gets hurt while getting due playback on the rich CEO.
Paul Nolan (Sonny Marinelli) heads up the operation as they proceed as planned. The operation though is far from smooth as Nolan decides it’s best to shoot the CEO’s wife in the head as proof of their intent.Well… Ben begins to have his regrets (also not knowing what Nolan did to Ryan’s wife) while they all take to an old closed down school to meet (and then divide and disperse).
Meanwhile, we don’t want to forget about the psycho and his basement monster. One of the girls, Rachel Adams (Anessa Ramsey) manages to escape thus triggering the monster to come a running. Now guess where they all end up? The 2 stories merge into this strange crossing of genres that has the bad guys and the monster all confronting each other. It’s good times for all !!!..or not
“Rites of Spring” is centered on this idea of maintaining a tradition in a small town that helps the crops while feeding the resident monster. It appears that the whole town is aware of it, but….. they like to see their crops growing despite the un pleasantries (I would imagine). Cult aspects are hinted at but not disclosed.
Directed by Padraig Reynolds, it’s real apparent that the idea of “Jeepers Creepers” was used as a sort of influence (not the same mind you, but in the same ball park). We get one new villain who is being called “worm face”, but who is never really explained enough to satisfy our need for curiosity. On that note, the film also ends on one of those “Silent House” endings with the protagonist heading down the road. Is it me or did we not see this type of ending in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” as well (sort of)? Oh ya, let’s not forget “The Devil Inside” Is this the new “end-trend”?
“Rites of Spring” may not be the most original piece I’ve seen this year, but it does at least attempt to supply us with something off the beaten path. While I already know there will be viewers who will feel cheated with some of the film’s holes, it is also apparent that they intended it that way. You can’t make a film that interweaves storylines without knowing that your leaving some details purposely out. “Rites of Spring” is a cool piece that challenges the audience to try a taste of new direction. It’s that notion of mixing up genre plots into a tasty new flavor of dread. Do I suspect a sequel? you betcha!
For now “Rites of Spring” prods its horror audience with a new road not yet taken. An impressive “monster meets crime” film that simply works.
Rites of Spring (2011)