"Bad Things"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie News “Bad Things” Review: Queer “The Shining” is a refreshing twist on Slashers

“Bad Things” Review: Queer “The Shining” is a refreshing twist on Slashers

"Bad Things"

“Bad Things” is a lot of fun as a lo-fi slasher with a killer cast. Writer-director Stewart Thorndike’s second feature film, following the 2014 hit “Lyle,” is a queer take on “The Shining,” centered around a deserted motel in a sleepy, snow-filled suburb. Gayle Rankin (“GLOW”) leads the film as Ruthie, the heir to the Comley Suites, who also has a traumatic connection to the hotel itself.

Ruthie and her three friends, including girlfriend Cal (Hari Nef), take a weekend getaway at the campy motel, which has been in disrepair since Ruthie’s grandmother died. Ruthie’s mother is somewhere around the property, but she keeps dodging both texts from Ruthie and her handyman, Brian (Jared Abrahamson). Tensions rise as Brian lingers and Cal waits for Ruthie to propose, despite her being unfaithful to Fran (a delightful Annabelle Dexter-Jones), who is Maddie’s (Rad Pereira) friend with benefits.

Yet the main quartet prefer to focus on the undead instead of their very much alive dramas: Maddie and Cal swap stories of past Comley Suites guests, including 1980s models who went out for a jog and never came back. “The ghosts are going to be really good for the brand,” Cal teases. It’s only when the spirits come back to haunt the core group of friends that it seems the spirits aren’t sexy anymore.

Ruthie’s horrific childhood experience in Comley is later discovered: her mother left her at the closed hotel during a snowstorm, only for Ruthie to nearly lose three fingers to frostbite and starve to death. days until it was found. To distract herself from her inner demons, Ruthie becomes obsessed with watching a hospitality consultant, played by a perfect Molly Ringwald who looks like she hasn’t aged a day since the 80s. Ruthie imagines her as a surrogate mother…as she masturbates to her imposing image of her.

“Bad Things” leans a little too much on the inspiration of “The Shining” at times, complete with an homage to the bar scene. However, the lo-fi quality of the film and the stellar chemistry of the cast make the film an easily watchable horror film. Dexter-Jones’ deadpan delivery is reminiscent of a sultry Wednesday Addams; coupled with Nef’s inherent amiability, the duo’s comedic timing grounds the film, especially as Rankin grows increasingly unhinged.

“Bad Things” gets it wrong when it comes to action sequences, but the excitement is part of the charm. The film constantly questions what is real or not, who is alive and who is dead, and what are ghosts or Ruthie’s memories. Thorndike, who is among IndieWire’s queer directors to watch, shines best in the film’s first half with lingering shots of the emptiness of both the vast corridors and Ruthie’s morality. It’s only when Ruthie wields a chainsaw in a ferocious state of despair that ‘Bad Things’ goes too far tonally, but ‘Bad Things’ is a great moment nonetheless.

Grade: B+

“Bad Things” premiered at the 2023 Film Festival and will be distributed by Shudder Friday 18 August.

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