DVD Review: Rites of Spring

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Indeed, we are in the midst of horror movie season, despite the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly closing on us. But the long nights and cold weather make a good scary movie a little more welcome than normal for many.

Our friends out at IFC backed this up by sending over a copy of “Rites of Spring,” a title every bit as solid as anything the IFC has put out previously…for the most part.

“Rites of Spring” follows a group of kidnappers who decided they were going to go after the brass ring, specifically, the daughter of a wealthy business owner. They’ve planned this out well, even deciding on a crackerjack hiding place in the form of an abandoned school in the middle of an area forest. Some of the kidnappers, though, regret their decision, and start to break up the group.

This particular problem will be compounded by the fact that the school they’ve chosen to hide out in is in, as I said, a forested area, which also happens to be home to a particularly bloodthirsty creature, whose blood lust is commonly assuaged by regular ritualistic sacrifices that, commonly, take place at the school. Now the kidnappers are facing down a monster who thinks it’s early springtime, and is hungry for its annual meal.

In general terms, I’m commonly very excited to see horror from IFC. They’ve done a lot of absolutely terrific horror. While admittedly, not all of their horror has been great–I can think of a few real dogs from IFC–they have put out some indisputably great stuff. I’m still a little scared of Home Movie. But it’s common practice at the IFC to put out something with at least one terrific twist, and  “Rites of Spring,” will prove to be no exception. There are two separate threads going on here, and the end result  is going to be a real treat indeed.

In fact, by the time it becomes clear–about halfway through–how the two threads are related, it’s going to pack a lot of extra punch, and the sheer quality of the setup is almost distressingly good. But sadly, the good doesn’t last. See, something went gravely wrong in Rites of Spring, and it’s right about the end. It’s like a chunk of the movie just got left out of the whole thing, causing the movie to end early and forget a large chunk of the plot that it would have resolved in the actual ending, which should have come about fifteen to twenty minutes after the film’s presented ending. Basically, somebody lost the ending. I don’t know who’s fault it is or what they did with it, but there are a good three or four plotlines that needed to be resolved, yet weren’t.

It’s not hard to ignore the terrific buildup–they did a really great job with the first hour–but all of that terrific buildup is mostly lost in the ending. Be sure to stick around after the credits, as they’ll fix some of the mistakes, but there are still holes left over. It was a nice touch, adding footage after the credits, but it just didn’t go far enough.

“Rites of Spring,” is mostly a great movie from IFC, and it would have been even better if they’d just bothered to finish the thing. It’s eighty percent great movie and twenty percent crashing disappointment, which adds up to pretty good to me.

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  • Hunter

    Thanks for posting another great review, Steve. I work with several other horror aficionados at DISH, and we have a weekly gathering to watch our latest finds. I have been looking for a movie to take with me, and I haven’t seen anything interesting until I came across Rites of Spring. I read your review and it sounded pretty good, so I added it to the top of my DISH Blockbuster @Home rental queue; I should have it just in time for our party. I hope it’s good; I haven’t seen too many IFC productions, so I don’t know what to expect.