For all you vomiters who had a review written and ready to contribute, I'll be compiling links to the film review for an entire week! So please submit, and I'll be happy to link to you.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my take on the film, and I encourage you to join in by sending me a link to your own review of Rites of Spring.
Wormface is a character that Rites of Spring attempts to introduce to the world, something of a staplepoint for the slasher genre like Freddy or Leatherface. He's very similar to the Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers series of films, but unlike that monster, Wormface has no staying power. His presence on screen is severely limited, and when the audience does get a glimpse of him, he looks more like a mummy with a badly damaged face than an otherworldly creature with a ravenous appetite.
It's due in large part to the fact that Wormface doesn't seem like a main character. Rites of Spring focuses on two side-plots at the same time, forcing them to join together in the film's later half. In the one instance, we have a kidnapping scheme enacted by a stranger outside of a bar. He snags two women, one being Rachel (Anessa Ramsey), our main character, and brings them to his secluded barn on the outskirts of town. He hangs them, bleeds them, and feeds them to Wormface, a creature he keeps locked underneath the floorboards. Through expositional shots of the stranger's house, we can tell that this is a ritual sacrifice to the gods of rain every spring, to keep the fields growing.
On the other hand, we have another kidnapping in an abandoned building. After being fired for no reason, Ben (AJ Bowen) and his girl Amy (Katherine Randolph) join forces with some dude they barely know named Paul (Sonny Marinelli) in a ploy to kidnap Ben's boss' daughter and demand a ransom from him of 2 million dollars. It's a scheme that's bound to fail - Ben has second thoughts, neither of the two are very good at thinking of the end-game of this scenario, and it's fairly easy to guess where all of this is headed - but one that brings Ben and Rachel together for Wormface's maximum killing potential.
The idea is clever - taking two seemingly unconnected plots and slowly divulging how they intertwine, director Padraig Reynolds attempts to circumvent the traditional slasher concept. But the wavering tendencies of each storyline make both a lesson in brevity; since neither idea is explored to the fullest potential, there are a lot of plot holes and questions left unanswered.
This goes for the theme of Rites of Spring. Somewhere within the weave of the two stories is a message about being honest or taking blame or something. The film makes a point of letting us know that Rachel messed up work and got someone else fired for it; Ben was the guy who got fired. However, after the segments with the boss' kidnapping end, there's little mention of that previous connection. Perhaps Rites of Spring meant to make a statement about forgiveness, but it's not apparent in the actions of the plot later in the film.
We come back to Wormface, too, because he is the main reason that Ben and Rachel are put in danger in the first place. Like the other plotlines left underwhelmingly explained, Wormface's presence is altogether confusing. The stranger has been keeping it locked up, and he gives it sacrifices every spring. But what does it do with them? Whenever we see Wormface, he's moving at a brisk pace and attempting to cut women's heads off. But he never eats them on-screen, a tendency that's fairly normal for most sacrifices.
Wormface's failure as an interesting serial killer is the lack of focus on him - it's difficult to be afraid of him when we rarely see him. How are we supposed to root for or against him, if the only idea of him is couched in scenes of him running at someone with a sharp blade? His actions feel laughable as well. I couldn't help but chuckle at his movements, as though the actors playing him were unsure of their next actions and did them hesitatingly. In short, there's nothing but vapidity to Wormface's presence, making him a lackluster enemy.
There's nothing that Rites of Spring does exceedingly well. In its attempts to break the mold of a traditional slasher, it actually shoots itself in the foot by breaking apart a main plotline in a trade-off for two separate stories that don't come together as well as Reynolds would like them to. Pair that with a forgettable killer and you have yourselves a horror film that won't usher in the next season of blood rain.
Rites of Spring on Rotten Tomatoes
- Son of Celluloid enjoyed the rites, even if the backstory was wobbly
- Maynard Morrissey of Horror Movie Diary succinctly sums up that Rites of Spring has no right in the slasher realm
- Dollar Theater Massacre enjoys Rites of Spring's attempt at mixing up the slasher genre, but feels the bloodletting doesn't go far enough