Bunnyman Massacre, The (2011)

The Bunnyman Massacre (2011)

Legend, urban myth or true story? You decide

Driving home through a remote region of Southern California, a group of teenage friends are harassed by a massive dump truck that plays cat-and-mouse with them along the stretch of road and which eventually forces them off the road. Seeking help at the only farm they have seen for miles, the group unwittingly fall into the clutches of a psychotic cannibal family whose number include the Bunnyman, a crazed madman so deformed and deranged from years of abuse that he wears a bunny outfit to commit his unspeakable crimes.

 

The Bunny Man is an American urban legend which stems from a couple of incidents in the 70s of a person in a bunny outfit threatening a couple of people with an axe in two separate incidents. The legend has spawned annual tourist pilgrimages as people hunt for the elusive Bunnyman. That’s pretty much it. Hardly the stuff of nightmares. But in an era where remakes, sequels, prequels and re-imaginings are pretty much the only thing that the main studios focus on, any ‘fresh’ material that independent filmmakers can rustle up is welcome.

It’s a shame then that The Bunnyman Massacre* is a complete dud. Far from telling an interesting and original story, the script has a bunch of teenagers fall prey to the Bunnyman in Texas Chainsaw Massacre fashion, complete with requisite psychotic hillbilly family (and chainsaw to boot). It’s just a sub-standard rehash of the usual backwoods tropes but not before a quick trip to Spielberg territory with the Duel-like opening salvo featuring the truck. All this tells me is that writer and director Carl Lindbergh has seen a lot of films and that he can recycle material like no man’s business. How about showing some originality? What Lindbergh fails to realise is that, and this opening scene is a perfect example, he is no Spielberg. Hell, he’s no Tobe Hooper either. There’s no excitement, no tension and certainly no point. Bizarrely, the friends decide to ‘wait out’ the truck and so we have the ridiculous visage of a group of teenagers in a car with a huge dump truck with blacked-out windows parked behind. Lest we forget that the truck was just trying to kill them a minute ago! Pacing is a real issue.

Intelligence isn’t high on the characters’ agenda and this is just one of many stupid decisions they make. Obviously they’re designed to further the plot and channel it the way in which the writer wants it to go but when they’re as dumb as this, it kind of takes the realism out of the situation. No one in their right mind would do the things that these characters do – not bringing food, drink or a mobile phone on a long road trip being numero uno! As a result of their stupidity, the characters have a likeability of zero and the terrible script gives us little reason to root for them when the Bunnyman makes his appearance. Usually in films like this, you’re rooting for the killer just to get rid of as many annoying cast members as possible. Sadly that isn’t even the case here.

The Bunnyman Massacre reeks of doing what so many contemporary horror films try to do – create an iconic villain so that they can make a killing out of sequels ala Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, etc. With the urban legend as its source, the Bunnyman character here looks every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s a lumbering costume with big, fluffy feet which shouldn’t provide as much mobility as it appears to have. Coupled with the madman’s fondness for heavy chainsaws, there’s no way that the characters shouldn’t easily outrun him. Only this is horror movie territory we’re in and so obviously the Bunnyman is just as nimble and stealthy as his animal namesakes. If you’ve seen one demented hillbilly psycho go to down on a bunch of teenagers then you’ve seen all of them and Bunnyman is no different, treading the same path as his predecessors. The costume adds nothing to the film, save for more inconsistencies with the plot and some physics dilemmas that need answering. Even worse is that the film is shot entirely during the day so the Bunnyman costume is never given the opportunity to look creepy in the dark or twilight. Seeing it in full daylight just adds laughter to the film when I’m sure this wasn’t the original intent!

The Bunnyman Massacre isn’t overly gore given that the killer wields a chainsaw. In fact there’s only really one make-up effect shown in the entire film – that of blood spray. Someone is attacked off camera and there’s a spray of blood which covers something nearby. Yeah it may look fine once but it’s clear that it’s the effects teams’ only skill. There’s a body count of about ten so Bunnyman does get pretty busy but between the opening kills and his carnage towards the end, there’s little to go on. There is one scene of obligatory torture which pushes the envelope of taste a little too far considering how dull the rest of the film had been. It seems shoe-horned in and provides little entertainment. Don’t get me wrong I’m not adverse to a little bit of torturing in my horror films but it needs to serve a purpose – here it’s just for controversial kicks.

 

I think you can gather where this review has been heading since the start. The Bunnyman Massacre is a lazy effort which assembles some good bits from other films and attempts to stitch them together to make a coherent film without any real idea of how to do it. There’s a lack of pace, a scrimping on gore, too many inconsistencies and illogical decisions and a general sense that the film is directionless and aimless. The blame must lay solely at the feet of the director who tries to punch far above his weight but dramatically fails to land a blow. Where’s Elmer Fudd when you need him to put this bunny menace to sleep?

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

*This film was originally just called Bunnyman in the US but was renamed The Bunnyman Massacre for its UK DVD release. The Bunnyman Massacre is the name of the sequel (i.e. Bunnyman 2) in the US but this sequel was renamed The Bunnyman Resurrection in the UK. Don’t ask me, makes no sense!

 

 

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