‘Frank the Bastard’ Loses Its Way Home

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Ged Dickinson presents Frank the Bastard, a thriller starring Rachel Miner (Supernatural), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), and Chris Sarandon (Nightmare Before Christmas, Fright Night). It was written and directed by Brad Coley and follows recent divorcee Clare who goes on a trip to revisit her past and uncovers a mystery buried deep within it.

From the outset, I was agitated by this movie. Clare’s companion, Isolda (Shamika Cotton), has seriously confusing motives regarding the trip to Clare’s hometown. She suggests the trip, then forces the trip, insists on driving the whole trip and then complains about doing so. She tells Clare one moment they were doing it because Isolda felt it would be good for her, and then next she says she only brought Clare here she was tired of hearing her whine and mope. Great people you surround yourself with, Clare. Maybe Cotton was frustrated that her character was stereotypically smoking Newports. Who knows.

The townsfolk are a refreshingly eclectic group, as aging hippies often are. Chris Sarandon makes a much-needed impression as Tristan Pace, but once again motives become muddled. He is supposedly leaving on a worldwide boat trip yet it never happens, making the whole plot point pointless. His intentions with Isolda are also confusing; in the end seeming to have strung her along simply to show her evidence that should have been shown to the authorities decades ago. And yet here we are, a woman aching for attention while he turns on a television. On we go with the stereotypes.

As for the rest of the town, they are genuinely kind but their kindness comes off as suspect. This is a thriller after all, and people being incredibly welcoming and kind to a pair of strangers is definitely suspicious. We’ve seen The Wicker Man, people. We’ve read “The Lottery.” When a small town is hungrily interested in an outsider, that is never good news.

To get down to it, this movie is way too cryptic for it’s own good. It is so confused with itself that you are left distant and bored. “Am I a thriller? Or am I horror movie? Should I hint at paranormal activity? Maybe it should be a murder.” And the biggest sin of all: It’s 45 minutes in before you even meet the title character. Once he appears, he is entered into scenes with a whimper, not a growl.

There is a strange, awkward sexual tension that runs through the entire film as well. Clare sure likes showing her underwear to Isolda, making a show of it even when she gets undressed and leaning in unnecessarily close when they talk. There’s non-consensual energy in half the male characters whenever faced with a female character. I’m not a hardcore feminist, but these overt motions at the theme are too much. Clare often looks distant or even stoned when seemingly attempting to be empathetic. All and all, it is a very long, long two hours.

I wish I could find a valid reason to watch this film. I really would. But until it understands what it’s trying to say, I can do nothing but shrug.

Frank the Bastard comes to theaters July 24, 2015.

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