Genuinely gripping but slightly out of its mind, “Rites of Spring” is simultaneously a “Badlands”-inspired Southern gothic kidnapping story and a pagan-worship/human-sacrifice/torture-porn yarn about a grotesque harvest deity and the farmer who feeds him. The two narratives can’t possibly intersect, but they do, in a glorious celebration of coincidence. Helmer-writer Padraig Reynolds creates a dizzying pastiche of genre conventions, and he has a terrific actress in Anessa Ramsey, who’s that rare thing in horror, a thoroughly convincing victim. Thriller could click on VOD with hardcore genre fans.
As per opening titles, Mississippi since 1984 has seen a rash of unsolved disappearances, and it’s soon clear why: A farmer (Marco St. John) has been abducting young women and feeding them to the thing (Amile Wilson) that lives in the gooey lair beneath his barn; his latest catch includes Rachel (Ramsey), who’s not going down without a fight. Meanwhile, Ben (A.J. Bowen), Amy (Katherine Randolph) and Paul (Sonny Marinelli) kidnap the daughter (Skylar Burke) of a local tycoon (James Bartz), taking their captive to an abandoned factory — into which the creature eventually chases Rachel. Execution is first-rate; logic is absent.