BreadCrumbs (Mike Nichols, 2011)
BreadCrumbs, the second directorial effort from horror documentary producer Nichols (Halloween: The Shape of Horror, His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th), has met with vituperation from just about every quarter. As I write this on October 25, 2012, the movie’s IMDB rating is a grisly 3.2, and its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 14%. As is often the case with movies like this, I’m really not getting the source of the hate; this is another run-of-the-mill slasher film, nothing terribly out of the ordinary, well-paced and a pretty good time if that’s what you’re in the mood for. To attack a slasher film, especially one made this late in the game, for being derivative is akin to attacking Mitt Romney for being a Republican; you may be able to find other angles of attack that have more substance, but if you choose the most obvious, that says more about the reviewer than it does the film.
Plot: a low-budget porn film production company rants a secluded house in the woods to film a movie. (Hey, give them a break, at least it’s on location!) On the way there, they almost literally run into Patti (The Melancholy Fantastic‘s Amy Crowdis, a production designer on much bigger-budget films like The Messenger) and her brother Henry (House of Dust‘s Dan Shaked in his first feature appearance), who seem to be lost in the woods. Henry’s a bit slow, and Patti’s a bit spacey, which lends the encounter a very weird vibe. In any case, the crew gets where they’re going, sets up shop, and starts filming before they encounter the brother-and-sister duo again—this time in much deadlier circumstances.
I don’t think it can be considered a spoiler, given that the promotional materials (explicitly) and the movie’s tagline (implicitly) state that this is a serial-killer take on the Hansel and Gretel tale. (In fact, the film’s title in the German market is The Hansel and Gretel Massacre.) I’m okay with that, and I’m okay with using adult actors to portray Hansel and Gretel—you get that weird vibe from the initial encounter throughout the movie because of it, plus you don’t have to deal with activist groups getting all up in arms on you because you’re using child actors as murderers (or in a film that has anything, no matter how non-explicit, to do with the porn industry). I am willing to admit that, yes, I am helped along in this by Amy Crowdis being jaw-dropping hot—though in the holy-cow-gorgeous department, in this film, she’s got a serious run for her money from Shira Weitz, who plays the porn crew’s production assistant, Nicole. But that’s not entirely it. Shaked does Henry very well, as long as you pick up on the fact that he’s supposed to be slow early on, and Henry ended up being my favorite character in the movie because of it. The Hansel and Gretel act are the best actors here, though Marianne Hagan, the female lead in the film, is also not bad at what she does (and one can blame the script for the one huge stupid decision her character makes in the film).
I’m also willing to cut it some slack because Nichols—no relation to the Mike Nichols behind such films as The Graduate, by the way—knows his way around a camera, and some of the shots in this movie are stunning. The very last shot, with one character (saying who would be a spoiler) disappearing behind a hill in stutter-cam, is alone worth the price of admission; in fact, that whole last sequence is pretty solid.
Your mileage may vary. Judging by the low ratings one finds for the film everywhere one looks, it probably will. But in my estimation, this movie is not nearly as awful as it’s currently made out to be. ** ½