If you think you know where A Bad Place will take you, you may be right but you may be wrong. Three women find themselves in a shifting landscape, and at first, the film follows some predictable beats, albeit cleverly done. And then writer/director/actor Jessica Cameron finds a swerve that sends her vision into another interesting direction, then another. The result is an entertaining horror film that plays with dread and confusion as easily as the bad place’s master plays with his puppets.
Florence (Cameron), Collette (Heather Dorff), and Molly (Ali Ferda) seem to have nothing in common. Except their paths keep crossing as they stumble through a labyrinth built out of their pasts. They’re also either unable or unwilling to remember how they got to this point, seemingly doomed to replay bits and pieces of different traumatic events.
As Cameron lays it out, though, it’s also clear that the roles they seem to be playing aren’t clear. The monster chasing them takes many forms, most disturbingly human. But at least one of the women may be disturbingly monstrous.
Shot with a largely claustrophobic feel — even the street scenes — A Bad Place makes the most of its budget, making up in ideas what it may not have in breadth. Though not terribly gory, it has its shocking moments, and it’s clear that their needs to be a title above Scream Queen for a creator like Cameron, writing, directing, producing, costume designing, probably providing craft services, etc. — Scream Queen Bee?
A Bad Place isn’t quite terrifying, though it has a few jumps. Mostly, it’s unsettling, unraveling human stories while unraveling its characters. It’s a perfect Cinequest fit, and should have a life — or afterlife — beyond.
A Bad Place has its World Premiere Saturday, March 7 at 3Below in downtown San Jose at 9:45 pm. For tickets and further showtimes, follow this link.