Friday, November 29, 2013

BITS 2013 Film Review - Blood Riders: The Devil Rides with Us

Unusual beginnings to films are rare these days, normally a movie begins with the introduction of the main characters, an event that will shape the rest of the piece or in a non linear narrative a scene from an hour or so into the movie that the story will eventually catch up to in the course of the plot. Blood Riders: The Devil Rides with Us manages to do something different. It starts with a character that is already dead talking to an interviewer in a white cube space between this world and the next. She reflects on her life, how she got here, how her death will affect her family and friends and the fate she hopes befalls the people that killed her.

Two friends Janek (Corey Lof) and Kyle (A.J. Morabito) are out on a Friday night.  They are looking for something different to do to make themselves stand out from being ordinary so they decide to steal a car.  Zoey (Caitlynne Medrek) and Dane (Joel Ballanger) are sitting on a curb on the other side the street watching the event. They go in for a closer look forcing the two friend to retreat eventually stealing a different car with the taunting Zoey and Dane along for the ride. They discover an unexpected surprise in the trunk that sets off a series encounters over a weekend.

Director Lari Teras presents a story that features violence with a slice of humour.  A number of the killings could be classified as accident, impulsive or opportunistic rather than a cold premeditated plan of action. Teras appears to be captivated by the splatter effect using it on the opening title sequence and often on the slayer or bystander as the blood of the latest victim hits them. Teras shooting style is straight ahead and right at the viewer. There are no killings that are heard off camera or seen in the distance. The direction is full on plain acts of violence. Most of the scenes are a two camera tight in crop shot furthering Teras goal to have the audience see everything close up.

The friends' two main combatants in the piece are occultists and neo-Nazis. They stumble across some information that they attempt to use to escape their situation. As part of the deal they are forced to visit white supremacist Gerhard (Will Conlon) to obtain an item. Things don't go as planned at Gerhard's place or when they deliver the item to the occultist complete the deal. The result is two very serious groups dedicated to their cause that now have a score to settle with the quartet.

The soundtrack is well appointed to a weekend killing spree. It's an equal mixture of hard driving rock and punk tracks plus effective instrumental interludes that accompany the ritualistic scenes of the occult.  The TV Freaks song Real Pain runs over the opening credits foreshadowing the upcoming events with the constant refrain of I guess it could get worse as the quartet inspect and eventually settle on a car to steal.

Of the main characters Caitlynne Medrek stand out as Zoey. She's a finisher rather that an instigator. Zoey points out the car that eventually gets the group into trouble. Several of her impulse acts early on in the piece force the troop deeper and deeper down a path of violence and death. She is also the subject of a running gag that at least one person in every new situation the group encounters knows her from the past. Ashley McDonald is notable in the role of Rosie a well traveled occultist that switches sides to join up with our heroes. Chris Feltis is also effective as the Interviewer who chats to several victims after they die then gleefully snaps his fingers sending them to the fires of hell.

Blood Riders is a joyful hour and 10-minute jaunt. The plot has a couple of twists and features a multiple different manners of death to satisfy the horror enthusiast. There is no great theme here but perhaps a message is to be yourself as there is no need to act out of character to be noticed or maybe to repent for your questionable actions in this world because you may be asked about them on your way to the next. The film is a blood splattered weekend adventure that I can recommend.

*** out of 4.

Blood Riders: The Devil Rides with Us | Lari Teras | Canada | 2013| 71 Minutes.

Tags: Peer Pressure, Afterlife, Hitler, Occult, Stealing Cars, White Supremacist, Neo Nazi, Devil Worship.

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