Worse than the slick corporate blandness of Bound to Vengeance’s artistry, worse even than its pandering shows of violence, is its ill-conceived sense of righteousness as feminist tract. Using a brick pulled from the wall of her basement prison, Eve (Tina Ivlev) escapes the clutches of a sexual predator, Phil (Richard Tyson), who saves himself by not only acknowledging that there are others out there just like her, but that he’s hardly a monster at all: “I’m not the hunter, I’m just the zookeeper.” What follows is a perversely gory mystery tour through a seedy Nowheresville that allows Eve, picking up the hog-tied Phil’s breadcrumbs of information, to play savior to a group of imprisoned girls. Think of the film as a grindhouse version of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, trivializing victim trauma by treating its main character’s best-laid plans as punchline fodder: Once freed, the first girl runs away from Eve and toward a crassly framed impalement (whoops!), and the second, suffering from an only-in-the-movies version of Stockholm Syndrome, has to be shot dead for turning violent. A slipshod stylist, José Manuel Cravioto leaves no color gel unused, directing with an incoherently frenzied arsenal of stock moves, from jittery handheld to shots from the point of view of inanimate objects. Busy as his aesthetic is, it can’t distract from the story’s shady politics. Far better entertainments than this default to showing female characters exercising agency only after their bodies have been sufficiently degraded, but as evinced by the home-video footage of Eve shrilly acting coy for her boyfriend Ronnie (Kris Kjornes), Bound to Vengeance goes further by insisting that women are, by nature, dim-witted lambs asking to be led to slaughter.
- IFC Midnight
- 80 min
- José Manuel Cravioto
- Rock Shaink Jr.
- Tina Ivlev, Richard Tyson, Bianca Malinowski, Kris Kjornes, Dustin Quick, Stephanie Charles
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