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Rites of Spring Movie Review

Matt-suzaka 6 Comments
Rites of Spring Movie Review

Rites of Spring is a double-sided tale that flips back and forth between two different stories that eventually come colliding together to, basically, create a whole other movie. The first half of the story is about two girls who are being held captive in a barn. What is planned for these young women is unclear at first, but soon it becomes apparent that they will be partaking in a yearly ritual that has resulted in numerous missing women since 1984. The second half of the story also follows a kidnapping plot, as a handful of would-be criminals take hostage the daughters’ of a wealthy businessman in the hope they will receive a healthy ransom for their safe return.

Rites of Spring goes back and forth between these two storylines at a fairly good pace, and having the two intersect keeps things fairly captivating. However, the film takes an intriguing turn when these two worlds collide and a mysterious, and quite deadly, creature is introduced, adding yet another layer to this genre mashup. It’s negotiable as to whether this added layer is actually a good one, because it completely changes the landscape of the film, but there is no denying that the path from point A to point B is somewhat interesting and even a tad inspired for a low-budget genre effort.

Rites of Spring is writer/director Padraig Reynolds’ first full-length feature film, and what he does in his debut is, overall, impressive, all things considered. The filmmaking is solid, with good camerawork and editing, both of which nicely capture the impoverished small town farming locations used in the film. There are moments where, from time-to-time, the film shows its low-budget colors with some minor details and execution, but these moments are certainly minute, far from distracting and most definitely forgivable. One bigger issue, however, comes from a handful of less than magnificent performances. There’s nothing necessarily bad about any one specific performance, but outside of the always great AJ Bowen and a handful of other actors, the acting is on the weak side.

Where the film might divide some viewers most is in how Rites of Spring suddenly turns into, well, a monster/slasher movie in the third act. This is where people will either find the most enjoyment or completely jump off-board, if they were even on board to being with. For me, it sort of works, but it certainly could have worked better. Personally, I think it would have been smart to go one way or the other. The film may have worked better had it either gone all out with the monster movie aspect or, on the other hand, simply left the creature out completely and let the main threat be some desperate hillbilly townsfolk. Having both takes away from both, because, quite frankly, the monster is sort of cheesy. Fun, but a little cheesy. And that level of hokeyness feels out-of-place with the direction of the film’s first two acts.

One thing I would love to have seen with Rites of Spring is for it to have pushed things just a little further. The film needed to get a little darker; a little meaner; a little more visceral; a little dirtier; because there is a slight staleness to Rites of Spring – a staleness that holds it back from being more than a blip on the indie horror radar. Regardless, Rites of Spring is a moderately compelling mix of genres that blend together for an enjoyable but somewhat forgettable viewing experience.


2.5 / 5 stars     

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6 Comments

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      1. DirtyGirl January 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

        I watched it today. It wasn’t very good. Too much screaming and not enough storyline. I would give it the same rating that you did. Thanks for the review :)

        • Mattsuzaka January 7, 2013 at 3:39 am

          No problem, and thanks for reading! It’s a pretty middle of the road movie. Didn’t hate it, didn’t really enjoy it much, either. I’d be curious what the director does next, though, only because the movie is well made considering its budget.

      2. charity January 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        I watched The Rites of Spring several months ago, and while it wasn’t
        terrible, it wasn’t good. I’d give it the same rating you did. I’m
        tired of horror movies where men kill (naked) women without the women
        ever trying to fight back. I don’t believe that this old man could
        kidnap all those women over a time span of almost 20 years without
        getting caught. I would just punch him in the face and call the cops. I
        thought the main weakness of the movie was the under-developed
        back-story. It never explains the origin of the creature, or why he needs to chop
        off the heads of women, and how that ties into the harvest. The other
        part that bothered me is that the movie claims these events take place
        on March 21st…and there are tall fields of corn. Do most people even
        plant corn that early? I don’t know where this movie was supposed to be
        geographically, and I’m no corn farmer, but I’m pretty sure most people
        haven’t even planted corn seeds yet on March 21st. Maybe they are supposed to be in South America (but for some reason have American accents)?

        • Mattsuzaka January 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Charity. As someone who lives in a town so small it makes Smallville look like Manhattan, there is a lot of farmland out where I live, and you are correct about the corn being tall for March. In fact, I think depending on how warm it is, March is around the time when they start planting, so the fields would still be bare. And actually, since you brought up the corn being tall, that sort of shows that their harvest issues couldn’t have been that bad if they had bountiful amounts of corn growing months before it should have been.

          Anyway, I can somewhat overlook that issue a little, but your other points certainly hold more weight in terms of where the movie really fails most. I think one of the problems was they went and threw too much into the story, and as a result, there is no real focus. There are a lot of loose ends, as you mention, and leaving the monster completely out of the picture would have been possibly given them a chance to develop something more concise. And having left the monster out and maybe involving more townsfolk would have made the numerous kidnappings more believable, too.

      3. Purple Hayes June 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm

        I tried to watch this last night, and had to turn it off around the ten minute mark. The intro paragraph about people disappearing every spring in an area over 26 years required a suspension of disbelief. When the weather man on the radio announced, “We are expecting four-point-five inches of rain, some areas receiving up to four and a half inches…” I felt I had to accept the film is just dumb. That was two different ways to explain the same thing for no reason.

        • Matt-suzaka
          Matt-suzaka June 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

          You weren’t missing out on much, so you made the right decision.