Comedy / Horror
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2nd Nov 07
After happily accepting a clumsy wedding proposal from boyfriend Lee Parker (James Fisher), Nicole Meadows (Rebecca Herod) finds her perfect bubble suddenly popped when her doting daddy goes and does something rather silly, like shoot someone in the head, and she has to help dig him out.
Matters get more complicated when it appears that the engagement ring Lee has bought her is in fact cursed. Consequently she is stalked by a rather annoyed ghostly bride by the name of Josephine (Eleanor James). Josephine had been jilted before her wedding and rather selfishly considers ruining that special day for any other bride that ends up wearing her ring.
The third film from Pat Higgins and his production house Jinx Media, following TrashHouse and KillerKiller, sees the writer / director venture into a less serious mode. Out goes the mood and gore of his previous offerings and in comes a more light-hearted and comical approach. In doing so Higgins has made his most satisfactory offering to date.
The acting is above par for such an offering with James Fisher, who also turned in a good performance in The Zombie Diaries, proving a likeable and engaging lead. Higgins obviously thought so too as he has cast him in his next project The Devilís Music. Fisher is well supported by the two lead girls, Rebecca Herod playing bride-to-be Nicole Meadows and her friend Carly (Natalie Milner). The characters are generally well drawn and feel real, even if the penning feels too keen to get a laugh at the expense of anything else in places.
Itís just as well that there is humour layered throughout the script as it plays better than the horror. Itís no accident that Higgins has cast a number of stand-up comedians in key roles which explains why the fellas playing the security men were a dab hand at delivering their lines.
Hellbride has you sitting up taking notice by employing a narration over the opening (and closing) of the movie accompanied by illustrations that are genuinely impressive. The narration is a nice touch and its one of many which balances the final verdict to a positive. Who would have expected to watch a low budget genre picture and be impressed by the songs written on the soundtrack? Even the dodgy night-club scene has a tune composed that is daft enough to probably get a few drunken lasses bouncing round their handbags.
Where Higgins still hasnít quite grasped things is in the allocation of his tight budget. As he did in TrashHouse he employed ideas within the story that the budget could not realistic stretch too. This meant that for all his hard work his finished product becomes slightly undone by appalling effects and a wedding set that really needed a proper set or to be filmed outside. Rather than find a way round his limitations Higgins dives in and exposes them.
In watching lower budget fare you are prepared to make allowances for the odd bit of duff acting or some cringe worthy effects, however the set used for the wedding is so badly conceived that it lets the climax down badly. Itís so frustratingly artificial. Also it doesnít help that the pace flags as we reach the scene with much of it feeling rushed and the humour forced.
By Higginís own admission, the wedding was what he considered to be the most ambitious scene to shoot and it shows. It just doesnít work. Still at least he gave it a go.
The script also quite glibly covers over the disappearance of Carlyís partner and he is never really mentioned again. Given that he vanished during the night without taking his car you would expect someone to at least mention him in passing, if nothing else, but they never do. The movie could have done with a tighter running time, feeling rather loose and padded at seventy five minutes. An hour could have improved the pace considerably.
There is enough good in Hellbride to mark out Pat Higgins as a name to watch. A much more confident piece than his 2005 debut TrashHouse, his improvement bodes well for his next venture The Devilís Music. Watch this space!