Right off the bat, Bad Things looks gorgeous. Shot in 16mm, it plays with dreamy pastels and 1970s aesthetics, all while having its all-queer cast roam around the hotel’s haunted halls in mesmerizing ways. The setup is straightforward, but not too obvious: Ruthie’s problems with her girlfriend and her mother are exacerbated by the hotel’s strange and haunted aura. At this point, Bad Things hints at being an arthouse, slasher, and psychological thriller all at once, fueling anticipation for what’s to come. But as it moves along, nothing noteworthy happens. The awkward chase scenes and the overdramatic reveals kill whatever momentum the film has built, but the real problem is that it tries to juggle too many things at once. It’s creepy, but never achieves true-fright status. It’s bloody, but never fully commits to the gore. It’s smart and weird, but never goes beyond answering the very questions it poses. It’s happy to leave a lot of things unanswered, which in turn leaves us all confused, much less satisfied with what we’ve just sat through.
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Actor: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Jared Abrahamson, Molly Ringwald
Director: Stewart Thorndike