During the 80’s there was a sub-genre of horror film called “S.O.V.s” (for Shot On Video) that were low-budget films shot on cameras that recorded directly onto video instead of the high quality film that had been used traditionally and is still used today. They were often poorly acted, edited and could be made by anyone who had the camera and a few friends who were willing to read the script once or twice. Generally speaking, they weren’t very good. Yet, due to the demand of video stores, they got distribution and found a fan base. Though the genre is often mocked, there has to be an appeal if they’re still talked about today around film geek circles.
Writer / director Richard Mogg set out to make his first feature film and model it after the S.O.V. era of film. I wonder if it’s considered cheating if you make a really low budget film and call it an intentional homage to older low budget films so it purposefully looks cheap. Or perhaps that’s just smart film making? I guess one has to acknowledge that with no money there are limitations to what you can achieve in film so it’s best to capitalize on a good concept and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
Easter Bunny Bloodbath follows Peter McKay who, as a child, watched his father dressed as the Easter Bunny decapitate his sister on Easter Morning. 20 years later, Peter (Shayan Bayat), his girlfriend (Meghan Kinsley), and their 4 closest friends visit a cabin that he just inherited and spend the weekend partying and celebrating Easter. However, something from Peter’s past is lurking in the woods. That’s right, the Easter Bunny is back and out for blood.
Frankly, the title of the film is awesome. It instantly catches people’s attention and makes them curious. Like so many b-horror films you want to see it in hopes that it lives up to its promising premise. Fortunately, Easter Bunny Bloodbath does. Truth is, I’m not overly familiar with the S.O.V. films of the 80’s, but even without that knowledge the movie is entertaining. Much like other tribute films, like Black Dynamite and Alien Trespass, it offers a glimpse into the genre and in a way, shows you what it’s all about, without the viewer having to endure the aspects of those movies that were tedious.
While it isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, they play it straight which I believe is the key to the film’s success. While yes, many of the missteps were calculated, it never comes across as a spoof film. It doesn’t play like a comedy, but it looks and feels like a bad horror film which, let’s be honest, can sometimes be funnier than actual comedies. Despite the blood shed on screen, the film never loses its playfulness. Really, with a title like Easter Bunny Bloodbath, you know it has to be goofy and can’t really delve into darker territory.
There were some odd choices in the casting of the characters which lent some comedy to the film. The first is the casting of young Peter, played by James Lawson. He is as Caucasian as they come, meanwhile his older self is played by Shayan Bayat of middle eastern decent. This is of course acknowledged by the film itself as a caption points out the difference of skin tone. Similarly, one of the couples who visits the cabin are Carol (Jessica Hill) and Mike (Laura Hope). The part was initially written for a heterosexual couple, but at some point during the casting it was decided that they would be a lesbian couple. Nothing in the script was changed for the character, not even Mike’s name and I actually think the film is much better for it. It just seems to me that the couple wouldn’t really have been characters of note other than being somewhat raunchy, but when you make them a lesbian couple it adds some charm to them. Or maybe it’s the fact that they’re named after characters from The Brady Bunch. Huh, that Mike turned out to be gay also.
There are very few surprises in the plot and how it carries out. Watching an Easter Bunny kill people is intrinsically entertaining, but there weren’t really any moments where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I never really wondered who the killer actually was. I would have liked a little more mystery or some flags pointing in a direction that could at least have me questioning what was really going on and who was under the suit. Though I suppose there wasn’t much room to play around with that given there were only six people in the main cast.
Nevertheless, Richard Mogg set out to make a great bad movie and that’s what he delivered. It’s got fake blood splatter and intentionally cheesy acting and it’s all the better for it. He knew he had limitations and he turned those potential weaknesses into strengths. And the end result is the best killer Easter Bunny story you’ll ever see… on your home video system.