(A.k.a. AMERICAN CONJURING)
BIND opens with a prologue set in 2004. On a sunny afternoon, four young girls play in the garden of an orphanage. New arrival Sarah (Sierra Pitkin) is being left out and, following an argument with ringleader Jenna (Shayleigh Pruzina), is told she can play with the group if she dares to spend five minutes in the building's supposedly haunted basement.
The girls leave Sarah screaming in the basement, returning to play outside. Which is especially mean, considering this is meant to be Sarah's birthday party. Oprhanage carer Donna (Deborah Finkel) has even baked her a cake especially.
However, when Sarah finally returns from the basement, her eyes are glazed over. When Donna comes to join the girls in the garden, cake in hand, she's horrified by what she discovers: the girls have been butchered by Sarah.
Footage from a cable news programme then tells of how Sarah was subsequently placed into psychiatric care, only to end up taking her life four years later. In the meantime she had insisted that she was being haunted by the ghost of the orphanage's former owner, suspected child killer and fellow suicide victim Hester Corbett. Of course, rumours persist that Hester haunts the building as a result.
Which leads us to the present day. The building has stood dormant ever since. Not any more: Ben (Darren Matheson), his wife Carol (Lynn Csontos) and her two kids from a previous marriage - surly teenager Zoe (Mackenzie Mowat) and cute younger sister Alyssa (Eliza Faria) - have bought the property for a steal, courtesy of Ben's wisecracking realtor pal Teddy (Nathanael Vass).
Donna turns up while Teddy's handing the keys over to Ben and family, in a bid to warn them off buying the property (Teddy has already assured them that "nothing bad ever happened here"). She's shooed away by a suddenly aggressive Teddy; the family ignore the fact that the building needs a LOT of work, and Donna's bad tidings, and move in anyway.
Before you'll have finished shaking head at their dumb decision, bad things have indeed started happening. These include eerie hallucinations; doors slamming shut of their own accord; balls and rocking chairs moving in sinister fashion; Zoe spewing up in the night; a creepy old zombie-like lady being spied fleetingly in the top bedroom's window despite the house being empty; Alyssa being compelled to draw gory pictures which uncannily foreshadow events ...
Every cliché you can think of, in fact. Tempers fray as the family become more tense in their new dwellings. And yet they stay on, regardless of the fact that Zoe's ill, Alyssa is disturbed, Ben has become violent towards Carol...
So, which one of them is going to get in touch with Donna and learn the true background of their house? And which one is going to succumb to the murderous encouragement of the malevolent spirit lurking inside their new home? Who will survive and which horror "homages" will surface along the way?
BIND relies heavily on the influences of former horror glories. The prologue instantly recalled THE ORPHANAGE (an obvious choice, perhaps, but compare the opening shots of both films and tell me they're not very similar). The scratchy opening titles sequence and wizened old lady in the basement brought to mind MARTYRS. As the film progressed I spied elements of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE EVIL DEAD, THE SHINING, even A BLADE IN THE DARK. And this isn't lazy journalism: this is me reporting on lazy filmmaking.
Replete with characters we've seen a hundred times before (the foul-mouthed teen girl who refuses to connect with her stepfather, etc), co-directors Dan Walton and Dan Zachary don't demonstrate a single original idea between them. Nor does screenwriter Ken King for that matter.
Cliché upon cliché is piled on as events progress. None of the characters are worth caring for; the cast make no effort to make them any more agreeable either. On the contrary, there is almost no-one to sympathise with here - bring on the deaths! Well, there isn't even much on the gore front either. Which leaves BIND in the awful predicament of having nothing to offer the seasoned horror fan. I think even the passing curious would find themselves hard-pushed to find anything of worth here.
Little surprise that the film's original title was the wholly unoriginal, derivative AMERICAN CONJURING. That really does speak volumes...
Left Films' UK DVD presents BIND uncut and in its original 2.35:1 ratio. It's enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Framing appears to be correct and images are satisfyingly sharp throughout. While colours are at times striking, the whole think looks rather obviously like the product of a HD video shoot - and has that murky, flat sheen often associated with the format. It's not that the transfer is a bad one; it's just that the look of the film isn't too vivid to begin with.
English 2.0 and 5.1 audio mixes are also hampered by poor source materials. The mixing on the film is all over the place: the overly obvious, signposting score often drowns out what appears to be post-dubbed dialogue. Still, if you're desperate to follow the plot, you can.
The DVD opens to a static main menu page. From there, an animated scene selection option allows access to the film via 10 chapters.
Bonus material kicks off with a slickly produced 7-minute Behind The Scenes feature. This contains plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes footage complete with useful explanatory captions here and there.
Two trailers for the film do little to hide its inadequacies, while an alternate version of the early news programme footage comes in at just under 2 minutes in length. Interestingly (or not), this is presented in open-matte format.
We also get an audio commentary by co-directors Walton and Zachary. They seem to be perfectly likeable fellas as they speak about the locations used (the orphanage was actually an old electronics factory), their young actors, their intentions, their influences and so on. I almost felt guilty for not getting more out of their film.
The disc is defaulted to open with trailers for JONAH LIVES and SCREAM PARK. These can also be accessed via a Left Films trailer vault contained in the extras menu, which includes previews for CLASSROOM 6, INVOKED and THE DEVIL'S WOODS too.
BIND is an incredibly hackneyed modern horror film. It has no charm.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Left Films|
|see main review|