The the direct-to-video (DTV) market is always game for horror. The Brazen Bull is the latest upcoming release from Virgil Films & Entertainment. With this film, director Douglas Elford-Argent provides a different look at the current state of the housing market, and the effects that this economy could have on individuals. Taking things to the extreme, this horror movie suggests that if the current housing market doesn’t hit an upswing soon, people might start killing over buildings.
The Brazen Bull stars Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill) as a man who has been pushed to his breaking point. Trapped in an abandoned warehouse are Lauren (Jennifer Tisdale – Bring It On: In It to Win It), her friend Ashley (Gwendolyn Garver), and her real-estate investing partner/fiancé, Tyler (David Frank Fletcher Jr.). Too bad for them they find themselves at the mercy of a killer (Madsen). With no way out, and no cell phone reception, they do their best to stay alive.
To say The Brazen Bull is a poor effort is an understatement. The plot, though amusing, never pans out. Why these characters are “trapped” in this warehouse is also vague, and having no cell phone reception is a worn out plot device. The script isn’t terrible, but the dialogue seems rushed, which is the opposite of the snails pace the plot takes. It takes over 30 minutes for the film to get moving, and once it starts going, it stalls on itself just a few moments later by delivering exposition, or a plot point the audience cannot buy into. The motivations behind the killer’s actions are as absurd as having no cell phone reception, and nothing to break a window with to jump out the first floor window. If the movie is going to be based on being trapped in a building, the audience needs to believe that the character really have no way out, and The Brazen Bull fails to deliver on this end.
Worst than the slow pacing is the terrible acting. The way the movie was acted left me wondering why I should care about their situation if the characters don’t even care. A man gets his fingers cut off as he is tied up, and the actor only seems mildly annoyed that this is happening! There is no emotional truth in the acting, save for the veteran Michael Madsen. Madsen does an excellent job, and brings sympathy and humor to a character that should otherwise be despicable. Madsen was not enough to overshadow the rest of the casts disappointing performances.
The director decided to keep actress/model Rachel Hunter’s New Zealand accent. This was completely unfounded, as her daughter Laura spoke with a standard American dialect. This could have been easily cleared up with just a few added lines of dialogue, but instead director Douglas Elford-Argent chose to fluff up the films length by adding in pointless shots of the abandoned building, and shots of the two female characters walking up 4-6 flights of stairs instead of just the 2-3 that were needed. These fluff shots added to the movies poor pacing, and could have been removed completely.
The bad acting and slow pacing could have been forgiven a little bit if there were great special effects to talk about. Instead, The Brazen Bull gives some cheesy intestine-like props with fake blood, a fake hand, and a buzz saw. For a movie that was “formulated for fans of Saw and Hostel“, there was very little blood, and even less action, which are staples of both the aforementioned series. The Brazen Bull forgets it’s a horror movie after the opening scene, and the rest of the film is a long, bumpy ride that leaves the audience wondering why they’ve wasted their time.
The Brazen Bull is presented in widescreen format. This DVD release looks fine on a high-definition television. There are places where the colors could be crisper, especially in the dimly lit scenes. The dark scenes become the biggest issue with the look of the film, but this is a minor complaint.
Sound-wise, The Brazen Bull offers up a stereo and a Dolby 5.1 option. There is not much in terms of sound effects, and the dialogue is never lost throughout the film.
The Brazen Bull: A Making of a Thriller (8:52): Typical look behind the creation of the film. The only actor who is worth listening to is the veteran Michael Madsen, as he throws out some interesting takes on how he approaches the art of acting. Otherwise, this is standard behind-the-scenes fare.
The Brazen Bull Trailer (1:25)
The one redeeming quality of The Brazen Bull is Michael Madsen, and even his appearance isn’t enough to recommend the DVD to anyone. Slow plot development, bad acting, and D-level special effects make The Brazen Bull a DTV bust. The nine-minutes of special features are slapped on to say they’ve got them, but do nothing to make this movie more recommendable. Simply put: do not waste your time.
Virgil Films & Entertainment presents The Brazen Bull. Directed by: Douglas Elford-Argent. Starring: Michael Madsen, Jennifer Tisdale, Rachel Hunter. Written by: Thomas Bilyeu, Chris Van de Polder. Running time: 85 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: November 9, 2010.
Branden Chowen is, first and foremost, an actor. He is in his final year of graduate school, where he will (hopefully) soon receive an MFA in acting to compliment his BFA in the art. He spends his free time watching and reviewing movies for Inside Pulse Movies, and We Love Cult. He is also one of the co-hosts for The Drive-In, which is the official podcast of Inside Pulse Movies. He is an avid horror fan, and will spend time watching just about any horror movie that looks interesting. You can contact Branden by email at bchowen[AT]insidepulse[DOT]com, or follow him on Twitter @Psymin1.