Betrothed Movie Review
Written by Greg Fisher
Released by Osiris Entertainment
Directed by Jim Lane
Written by Jeff Rosenburg
2016, 90 minutes, Rated R
Mikayla Gibson as Audra West
Joey Bell as Ethan
Jamie B. Cline as Adam Cooper
Adam Dunnells as Nate Cooper
Bunny Gibson as Ginnie Cooper
Typically, when there is a fairly sizable rift between a film and its trailer, there will be issues. If the trailer can't even remotely capture the feeling and tone of the movie in a minute or so, how can it feel right with the longer form?
The trailer for Betrothed promises a tense, brutal cinematic experience. Tight shots and dramatic pleas fill the small YouTube screen, and the viewer is readied for a bloody thriller. Watching the film in whole, the audience is given a much different experience. The grittiness turns to grime, and the drama turns into gleeful vicious abandon in a movie that far more resembles Grindhouse than Arthouse. It may give the final product less of a glitzy legitimate appeal, but also serves to make the movie unique and more memorable than a normal kidnap and terrorize horror flick.
The setup could easily be for a porno or a horror film: a pretty young woman is abducted to become the bride of one member of a creepy and sadistic family. The acting, other than lead Mikayla Gibson, would be fit for either as well. The two brothers, Adam and Nate, are caricatures, speaking in lowbrow redneck accents. Bunnie Gibson, as their mother, does her best to channel Anne Ramsey from The Goonies. In fact, most scenes involving the Cooper family feel like a variation on the Fratellis from that movie mixed with the Sawyer family from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This is completely on purpose. You'll not find a brooding villain soliloquizing about the nature of good and evil. The big bads here simply guffaw, look confused, and do bad because they like how it feels.
As noted, Mikayla Gibson's performance bucks the trend. Viewers could almost question whether she was working from a different script In a movie of silly acting and cartoonish violence, Gibson does her level best to play the straight man. She rides the line between dramatic acting and dramatic overacting, but this is evened out by, and helps offset, the over-the-top work of the rest of the cast.
Director Jim Lane embraces overindulgence at every turn. The color palate of the movie stays bright and vibrant, even oversaturated, matching with the tone of Jeff Rosenburg's script and the performances. In our current landscape of dark and gritty thrillers and horror films, there's something to be said for someone doubling down on bright and crazy. Rosenburg's script is anything but nuanced, lacking any instance of subtlety and subtext. In most cases, the dialogue resembles a middle of the road sitcom dreck, but it somehow works.
Overall, the story is nothing new, and the performances won't wow you. However, should a viewer need a palate cleanser from the plethora of found footage movies and dark and dreary Babadook wannabes, this movie fits the bill. After all, sometimes a movie can just be fun, without any big statements or hand wringing. When your biggest star is Omar "My brother Cuba might get the credit but I was on Wild and Crazy Kids, dammit" Gooding, you have to go with what works.
Sometimes, it's best to embrace what you are, and not strive to be more.