Bound to Vengeance
José Manuel Cravioto’s English-language debut starts with a hand-held shot of Tina Ivlev as Eve. At first glance this seems to be yet another low-budget Blair Witch Project descendant, but in less than five minutes she is transported into a shady basement with a captor named Phil (Richard Tyson). In a poorly accomplished metaphor for female liberation, Eve hits Phil with a brick and escapes from the literal chains that held her captive. The 80-minute scavenger hunt begins.
Attempting to leave the house where she has been a prisonner, she comes across a series of photographs of other female victims and makes it her mission to become their rescuer. Why does she suddenly care so much for these girls? Why won’t she get help from the police? Why does she have to take Phil with her as a bizarre sidekick? Her motivation is not clear until the end of the film, but even these plot twists aren’t that surprising or scary.
Ivlev’s performance is good enough to make the spectator root for her character, but she can’t make the absurd and far-fetched dialogue any more digestible. Richard Tyson’s Phil is not even slightly credible. A padded scene where he gives his character a cheap backstory, far from generating sympathy, makes the film all the more pointless and pathetic.
To assume the portrayal of man-slaughtering females with Stockholm syndrome as representative of feminism completely misses the movement’s aim for equality, rather than physical or moral supremacy. Bound to Vengeance is more of a sadomasochistic male dream: first, he captures and tortures a bunch of attractive, young girls, then he accepts being abused and takes pleasure in them punishing him.
Horror films need something extra to be successful. They can either rely on a great story or on nasty gags that test the gore threshold of its viewers. Bound to Vengeance has neither. It proves that good writing doesn’t just consist of turning the tables on mainstream narratives and using the first blunt answer to a what-if question. It also shows that empowering a female victim won’t automatically make any story a lesson in feminism: comparing it to Kill Bill is a huge and undeserved compliment.
Bound to Vengeance is released in selected cinemas on 30th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Bound to Vengeance here: