Carl Lindbergh’s Bunnyman: Grindhouse Edition (henceforth BGE) is an expanded, re-edited version of Lindbergh’s Bunnyman (2011). For those who aren’t familiar, the latter film concerns a group of six young adults who find themselves stranded in a rural part of Southern California. They then spend most of the movie trying to run away from a chainsaw-wielding killer who’s dressed in a full-body bunny costume.
I haven’t seen the original Bunnyman, so what I’m about to say may not be entirely correct. But if Lindbergh’s own statement on it is any guide, BGE doesn’t make significant changes to Bunnyman’s basic plot. Instead, as the subtitle “Grindhouse Edition” suggests, this remake aspires to be meta, offering a parodic tribute to what Lindbergh calls “the Grindhouse/Exploitation films of the 1970s.”
“…spend most of the movie trying to run away from a chainsaw-wielding killer who’s dressed in a full-body bunny costume.”
In practice, this means that BGE takes on a number of stylistic features that do nothing by themselves to advance the plot. The entire film, for instance, is characterized by a grainy overlay, as though Lindbergh wanted to imitate the poor quality of films that typically played in actual grindhouses. Other add-ons include footage of commercials from the ’70s, a mock trailer for the sequel to the original Bunnyman, and extraneous footage of a woman being slashed to death in a shower.
I confess that I’m anything but an expert in horror films. That said, if you’re a fan of B-horror movies, I suspect you’ll probably find something to like in BGE. The various techniques that I previously described aren’t exactly subtle, and their novelty fades pretty quickly. Yet to Lindbergh’s credit, they do succeed in creating a retro atmosphere: when you watch the film, you’ll feel as though you’d been transported back to the heyday of grindhouse cinema.
Despite all of this, however, my guess is that you’d have to be a very, very, very devoted horror enthusiast to be able to overlook BGE’s many flaws. Like so many slasher films, for one, BGE is deeply misogynistic. Whether they’re whimpering victims or villainous sadists, the female characters are invariably assigned degrading roles, and their deaths are often depicted in a bloody, graphic manner that borders on the pornographic.
“…characters spend most of the film wandering through the woods, arguing, or engaging in drawn-out…conversations with strangers.”
Beyond its reliance on tropes that many horror movies share, however, BGE’s narrative also turns out to be uniquely boring and nonsensical. For one, the main characters spend most of the film wandering through the woods, arguing, or engaging in drawn-out (and ultimately meaningless) conversations with strangers. In the few moments when the film actually becomes somewhat suspenseful, moreover, it resorts to plot turns that feel forced, implausible, and at times downright silly.
Defenders of Bunnyman and its numerous spin-offs would probably argue that these films are meant to be “guilty pleasures,” such that all of these criticisms are missing the point. Perhaps. But if you ask me, BGE’s “badness” isn’t the kind of badness that turns out to be unexpectedly entertaining. Rather, it’s the kind of shoddiness that proves unbearably painful to watch, such that the film’s short 1.5-hour runtime feels more like 15. Ultimately, Lindbergh’s attempts at inducing nostalgia for the grindhouse era can only do so much for what ends up being a near-total train wreck.
Bunnyman: Grindhouse Edition (2019) Directed by Carl Lindbergh. Written by Carl Lindbergh. Starring Cheryl Texiera, Matthew Albrecht, Alaina Agianci, and Carl Lindbergh.
1 out of 10