Saturday, August 6, 2016

DVDebut: A teen suicide cult forms in a small Wales town in Jeppe Rønde's BRIDGEND

The kids may be suicidal in the small town of Bridgend, Wales, but it's the adults who would appear to be criminally negligent in the 2015 movie, BRIDGEND, that made its DVDebut last month. Beginning with a few moments in the woods that stagger in their simplicity and emotional jolt (this is the boy-and-his-dog scene to end them all), the movie then zeroes in on a father/daughter who are returning to the little town, after years away.

As directed and co-written by Danish filmmaker (best known for documentaries) Jeppe Rønde, shown at left, the movie offers up a generational divide more immense than even usual: the adults here are hypocritical, useless, unfeeling, drunken shits who seem to have no clue about anything. Their kids may be the product of all this, but what in the world has induced them to form this seeming "suicide cult"? After viewing this too-long movie, I suspect that Mr. Rønde hasn't a clue. And neither will you. But he has turned what evidently is a movie based on real events -- as the end credits inform us, there were 79 suicides in this town between 2007 and 2012, with more occurring even now -- into a would-be noirish horror film that defies credibility, common sense and intelligent moviemaking. (The line "Everything is going to be OK" has rarely sounded stupider than it does here.)

The filmmaker does manage to engross us for maybe the first half-hour, as one suicide, then another, occurs and we fear for our heroine. But then she gets sucked into the "cult" far too easily, and we begin to wonder why the townspeople, including the police department (our heroine's father, played by Steven Waddington, above, is even on the force!) are doing little to nothing about all this.

Our girl (played by Hannah Murray, above and on poster, top) is busy all the while with various males in the cult. One tries to kills her, another to rape her, but she has fallen for Jamie (Josh O'Connor, below, rutting), a very problemed cult member who can't seem to decide on much of anything -- or stick with it, once he does.

Mr. Rønde enjoys teasing us with weirdness and some nudity and enough creepy scenes to keep us watching. But eventually the movie begins to feel like nonstop vamping, as the screenwriters search for something, anything, to keep us interested. But even on a rudimentary level the movie begins to make no sense.

The town's adults seem to have zero control over their kids, nor do they appear to have any interest in obtaining it. Events are simply arbitrary, with their consequences practically nil. The townspeople, including the families we see, barely have a nodding acquaintance with each other.

Those notorious Bridgend suicides deserve a better memorial this this -- the biggest piece of crap I've seen all year. From Kimstim and being released to home video by Icarus FilmsBridgend -- in English and running 104 minutes -- is available now for purchase and maybe rental.

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