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Rites of Spring

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.

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.

Rites of Spring

  • Production: An IFC Midnight release and presentation of a Red Planet Entertainment/White Rock Lake production in association with Vigilante Entertainment. Produced by Wes Benton, Eric Thompson, John Norris. Executive producer, Bobby Benton. Directed, written by Padraig Reynolds.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Carl Herse; editor, Ed Marx; music, Holly Amber Church; production designer, Mary Goodson; costume designer, Kerrie Kordowski. Reviewed at IFC Center, New York, July 31, 2012. Running time: 81 MIN.
  • With: With: Anessa Ramsey, A.J. Bowen, Katherine Randolph, Marco St. John, Sonny Marinelli, Amile Wilson, Skylar Burke, James Bartz.
  • Music By: