Bethany Movie Review
Written by Ali Chappell
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by James Cullen Bressack
Written by James Cullen Bressack and Zack Ward
2017, 104 minutes, Not Rated
Released on April 7th, 2017
Stefani Estes as Claire
Zack Ward as Aaron
Tom Green as Dr. Brown
Shannen Doherty as Susan
James Cullen Bressack (13/13/13, Pernicious), the astonishingly young horror director and writer, once again makes his mark on the scene and takes us on his latest mind fuck of a thrill ride.
Bethany is a wonderfully sad story of Claire (Stefani Estes), who after her mother passes away, she inherits her childhood home. A place where to escape the clutches of her abusive, overbearing, controlling mother, Susan (Shannen Doherty), she would turn to her invisible best friend, Bethany; a spirit you get introduced to right away. Once Claire and her husband Aaron (Zack Ward - Restoration) move into the house, the voices start back up again. She sees her spoon move when she placed it down right beside her plate. When Aaron goes back to work and she is left alone in this house with her thoughts, we see glimpses into her cruel childhood. We see her struggle to deal with her past, while at the same time try to control the present and fix her marriage with Aaron.
They go so far as to have as to Skype with Dr. Brown (Tom Green), their couple's therapist from where they used to live. We learn that after they lost their baby, Claire tried to kill herself. This was their chance to have a fresh start, maybe even try again. An idea she is not fond of. When more dangerous events start happening, they make you question whether Claire is haunted or if she is trying to hurt herself. We see a demon push her down the stairs and later, tightly clutch her arm while she tries to cut her fingers away. Whereas Aaron thinks she threw herself down the stairs and to Aaron and Dr. Brown it looks like Clair just tried to cut her wrists. This results in Aaron consistently putting her in the hospital and Dr. Brown suggesting they move out of the house for her sake. As the story continues, their lives our changed by the actions of Claire's mother that happened over 20 years ago, causing them to face some harsh truths about her life.
Bethany is thrilling to watch. It blurs the lines between is this a mental illness or is this a vengeful haunting? Stefani Ester plays this role amazingly. At times, you are left to wonder if her hallucinations and manic behaviour are set off as a form of PTSD when she returns to her mother's house and relives all the pain she endured as a child. While we want to believe that this is a demon and that Claire is not crazy, she plays the role so methodically that you second guess yourself. That is, until Aaron becomes afflicted by the same spirit. He even tells her in the hospital that even though he was her husband, he still didn't believe her until it happened to him. A perfect moment that helps remove the line and show Claire that she needs to face her past.
Seeing Tom Green in a role that is serious versus his usual comedic self is a welcome change. As a fellow Canadian, it is much appreciated listening to him discuss in casual conversation with Aaron how he misses Caesars and that Canadians tend to hide behind their politeness.
Bethany's tagline, "A Real American Horror Story", holds so much truth behind it. We all want to be happy in our lives, but we must face our demons to move on from our past. Bethany is a nail biter from start to finish and another win for our young up-and-coming director Bressack.