Year:  2023

Director:  Kameron and Scott Hale

Release:  February 17, 2023

Distributor: Terror Films

Running time: 80 minutes

Worth: $12.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Miranda Nieman, Jake C Young, Olivia Dennis

… a strong attempt to provide its audience with more down to earth chills.

If there’s one thing that’s going to get the blood pumping of certain Australians, it’s the prospect of a hard rubbish collection and the treasures that will end up for the taking on the side of the road. There can’t be many students who haven’t furnished their bedroom with an abandoned scuffed desk, or a first-time home owner brandishing a complete, if extremely mismatched, dinnerware set. However, Free to a Bad Home, from directors Kameron and Scott Hale, AKA The Hale Brothers (Entropy), looks set to put a damper on people’s love for second-hand freebies.

Essentially, we have an anthology of stories loosely linked together through names, characters and references to others in the film. First up is Amy (Miranda Nieman), a widow who lives a solitary life, drinking wine and eating junk food. Unbeknownst to her but obvious to the viewer, Amy is stalked by a pale man haunting the outskirts of the frame. When Amy’s sister visits her unexpectedly armed with a bottle of wine, noises in the house suggest that whatever has been stalking our hero wants to make its presence known.

In the second story, a crafty burglar, Ryan (Jake C Young) stumbles across a woman bound in the basement of the house that he’s robbing. Being a thief with a heart of gold, Ryan goes to free the woman, only for her to advise that if he does so, she will go to the house next door and kill everyone inside. Decisions, decisions.

Both of these stories have a slow burn, dreamlike quality; the Hales don’t appear to want to rush their storytelling nor worry about laying everything out for the viewer. In Amy’s case, her tale is never quite as linear as to be expected and the final minutes throw up suggestions of who Amy really is and her final fate. Meanwhile, Ryan’s story, the strongest of the two, is a gothic two-header where the hero is faced with making a Faustian deal that could not only affect him but people he’s never met. It’s fair to say that those looking for Creepshow-like thrills in their anthologies may find these tales, so far, don’t really quench that thirst for visceral horror.

However, along comes the third entry in the film titled Julia. Here, we see twenty-something Julia (Olivia Dennis) and her friends going to a Halloween party with the promise of drugs and booze. Instead, they get a demon with a gaggle of worshippers more than happy to start cutting up Julia and her gang. This is by far the most balls-to-the-wall entry that the Hall Brothers serve up, coming across like the demented cousin of Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2. This is the story that brings everything we’ve just seen into one cinematic microverse with a lot more vomit than you’d expect.

Overall, Free to a Bad Home is perhaps not the strongest horror anthology out there and the tales, although varied, never quite stick the landing. However, what it does do is show a strong attempt to provide its audience with more down to earth chills.