FrightFest review – Night of the Bastard

My notes on Night of the Bastard

A cheerfully grim exercise in retro-grindhouse suspense-horror, evoking the grimy 1970s likes of Barn of the Naked Dead or The Night God Screamed.  A prologue features hippie Satanists, a sacrificial family, an incomplete ritual and a gruesome birth … then, forty years later, the blood-soaked stretch of desert is mostly inhabited by Reed (London May), a self-sufficient misanthrope who lives  in the middle of nowhere with his only friend, Marlon the Turtle, and shows up with a shotgun to scare a trio of young folks off his land.  They try to set up camp somewhere else,  but the next generation of that cult show up en route to another stab at that summoning ritual – and wounded sole survivor Keira (Mya Hudson) is forced to seek shelter with the unenthusiastic Reed.  A siege ensues, with mad den mother Claire (Hannah Pierce, simultaneously channelling Tura Satana and Lily Tomlin) marshalling her demented, not-exactly-reliable forces to get Reed to come out and play.  Director Erik Boccio, who also devised the story with May (though the script is by Christian Ackerman and Chuck Foster), goes for suspense laced with dark comedy rather than all-out jokiness and Night of the Bastard is better for it – though it’s in the ballpark of many 1970s killer cult items, it has its own original feel, mostly thanks to May’s grungy, pained, miseryguts-who-has-to-take-a-stand performance.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.



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