Hansel and Gretel get a gory makeover in Bread Crumbs, Mike Nichols’ 2009 horror set in the tried and true backwoods of America.
Nichols plays a sleazy porn director bringing his small film crew on location for a shoot. Aging star Angie (Marianne Hagan) is looking to retire after one last scene with a lovestruck young newcomer, but her plans get put on hold when a pair of creepy adolescent siblings start slaughtering her costars. With no phone or working car, the survivors spend the evening ducking bow and arrow shots, tripping in bear traps and naturally, fighting amongst themselves as the situation grows more dire.
Bread Crumbs is a fun, if flawed little film that puts a clever spin on the familiar forest horror sub-genre. The Grimm Brothers angle opens up some surprisingly creepy moments, although actors Dan Shaked and Amy Crowdis (both quite good) seem a little too old to truly play the “children” their victims treat them as. Though it’s refreshing to have typical dead teenagers replaced by real adults, Bread Crumbs lingers a little too long on setting up their characters before our first massacre. Establishing our protagonists is always welcome in horror, but when only one or two have even the slightest chance of survival, it’s hard to justify all the time that could be spent on more thrilling fare. To Nichols and his screenwriters’ credit, having a thirty-something porn queen emerge as our final girl is a unique and effective touch, well-aided by Hagan’s earnest performance.
Though early dialogue hardly makes the film promising, Bread Crumbs picks up strongly once the mayhem begins. The film has fun twisting a few childhood games into murder hunts, from cowboys and Indians to hide and seek. The final chase offers some strong scares and appropriate character choices, even if there’s a good old-fashioned night-to-day-in-a-minute transformation that could probably have been fixed with a little more editing care.
Bread Crumbs doesn’t change the game of horror, but it’s a breezy 90 minutes that beats a whole lot of other straight-to-DVD titles on the market, especially with its occasionally smart humor and surprisingly well-orchestrated score. For something that honors an old formula with some clever new turns, it’s a fairly tasty treat. The film will be available on DVD beginning January 25th.