It’s not the most original film ever made, but damnit it has spirit! And that can make up for a lot. Like Alex Chandon’s splat-happy short film “Bad Karma”, “Cradle of Fear” also bows before horror greats of the past, sometimes seemingly ripping them off while at other times paying the deepest homage. Either way, “Cradle of Fear” was crafted by an incredibly talented filmmaker who packs this two hour feature with gallons of gore and some actual pretty good scares.
“Cradle of Fear” features four stories tied together by the story of Kemper the serial killer, who in the past, has used hypnotism to slay his victims. Locked away in a dark cell, Kemper reaches out to a disciple of his on the outside world, the Man, a real gothic lookin’ sumbitch, by passing him notes through the bars of his cell. I know this is unlikely, but consider my disbelief suspended. Anyways, on the notes are names of family members of the people who were responsible for his capture and prosecution. And so, with every note leading into a different story, the Man pays these people a visit and makes their lives a living hell.
The first story has the Man picking up a gothic hoochie at a heavy metal vomit club. The two get down back at her place, but the nookie is fast and furious and the girl hardly remembers what the hell happened ‘cept that, the next morning she can feel something planted deep inside her womb. She also notices that she’s been suddenly thrust into a world packed with demons. Similarities to “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Jacob’s Ladder” were a little strong for me here.
The second story has a couple of girls breaking into a house to snag some cash. The robbery goes foul and the girls wind up killing the man of the house. From there on in, the caper just keeps going downhill for the burglars.
The third story has a man, feeling incomplete with only one leg (guess he hasn’t been doing so swell in those butt kicking contests), decides to take what’s not his from an unsuspecting friend. Anybody that’s seen Eric Red’s “Body Parts” can figure out what ensues.
The fourth and most creative story finds us watching a man slip deeper into his addiction for internet smut. His stumbling across a site that features “have it your way” interactive snuff movies called The Sick Room is what pushes him over the edge, neglecting his job and even turning to violence against co-workers. Very creative idea, yet the ending is a bit predictable.
Okay, now if you’re been paying attention to this review, you should be asking yourself, “what did the Man have to do with those last three stories.” To tell you the truth, I was asking myself the same question. Except for the first story, the Man really has little contact with the doomed characters. He just kinda shows up to witness their demise. So, I guess you can say that by his presence, he’s cursed the lives of these people, driving them to do unspeakable things. This is just a guess. This is only one of the minor problems I had with the film.
The other is the whole shot on video sans Film Look quality of the picture. It takes a little while to get adapted to the Spanish soap opera look of the feature. But this does indeed occur. So entertaining are the stories that you just get pulled in, dropping your expectations of some guy in a sombrero coming out to save the day. I still would really like to see Alex shoot a feature on film. I think the results would be fantastic.
Fans of gothic metallers Cradle of Filth will be happy to know that not only does the film feature music by the band, but also stars Cradle screamer Dani Filth as the Man. “Cradle of Fear” also features a surprisingly unobstuctive electronic soundtrack. For some reason, far too many low budget features let the music drown out what’s going on in the film, but “Cradle” keeps it in the background where it belongs, helping shape the mood. The music’s actually quite good, too.
Like “Bad Karma”, “Cradle” is jam packed with gore. Well done gore at that. It’s just a shame that it never looks as good on video as it does in film. Still, it’s rare that I see a video production where the gore actually has me bouncing up and down with excitement. Good stuff. Oh yeah, there’re plenty of naked chicks, too. Woo hoo!
Check out the “Cradle of Fear” website to take a peep at a cool little gallery set up like the Sick Room site in the film. Not only does the movie rule, but the website kicks a*s as well. Highly recommended!