Sunday, August 21, 2016

Opie Cooper's BIG BAD is an old fashioned kids' adventure (complete with monster)

Some kind of throwback to an earlier, more charming and generous age when teens could populate a movie without being slashed to death, BIG BAD (yes, as in... wolf -- or something like that), this new 1980s-set scary movie relies more on action, surprise, thrills and good performances than it does blood and gore. For that reason alone it deserves some praise. Yet the film also provides a lot of old-fashioned, good-natured fun -- along with some genuine surprises that should bring a smile to your face -- once you get in groove with this unusual little opus.

As directed and co-written by Opie Cooper, shown above (the co-writers are Daniel Dauphin and Beth Kander), Big Bad looks quite good visually and sound good, too -- thanks to dialog that seems relatively real and slightly "period."

The surprises begin at square one, as the three characters we're introduced to (and who we imagine will carry us right through the movie) are actually dispensed with before we even get to the opening credits. There are frights and scares, all right, but nary any gore on view, which gives the movie a more deserved PG rating than many glossier, big-budget affairs we've seen of late.

The plot, such as it is, has to do with a high school teacher (Mr. Dauphin, above, right) with a rather odd fund-raising plan that involves getting a small group of his students together to spend a night in an old and now-closed-down jail out in the middle of nowhere (nowhere being, of course, where some very odd disappearances and bad things have been happening for awhile -- though nobody, including the town's sheriff, police and local busybodies (below), seem to care much about this.

The three kids who end up taking part in the "fundraising" include a young fellow, his ex-girl-friend and his best friend, along with that oddball teacher, and what they soon find frightens them half to death. As with most good scare movies, the monster is kept at bay and only slightly visible for quite awhile, yet he provides the necessary scares and frights.

The three leads include Ainsley Bailey (above, center) as the ex-girlfriend and the bitchiest of the three, Madeline Thelton (below, center) as the BFF, and Cameron Deane Stewart (at left, three photos above and below, right) as the buff-but-boneheaded boyfriend.

I will not make any great claims for Big Bad as a must-see movie, but as a charming little time-waster that shows a good deal of talent on a low budget, the film certainly delivers the goods. (It also tries for -- and intermittently succeeds in providing -- an end-credits sequence that is different and fun.

From Indican Pictures and running just 87 minutes, the movie hits DVD this coming Tuesday, August 23 -- for purchase and (I hope) rental. For some very amusing and interesting info on its director/co-writer Opie Cooper, click here and scroll down to peruse the information about Opie and his "Eagle Scout" history with Steven Spielberg.... 

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