Bane (2011)

Directed By: James Eaves
Written By: James Eaves
Starring: Sophia Dawnay
  Tina Barnes
  Lisa Devlin
  Jonathan Sidgwick

Four women wake up in a “cell”, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. A creepy doctor informs them they’re part of an experiment – what, we do not know. The walls are electrified, the guards wear masks and something horrible is lurking somewhere in the darkness… something with a very big knife and a penchant for carving numbers into flesh…

Bane is an intriguing, badly-designed, loud, strange and lengthy little horror. It is a short film stretched to absurdity, an A Level drama project slapped out on film; it is an idea and nothing more. It should never have been made into a feature film, especially one that is 1 hour 50 minutes long. Yes, 1 hour and 50 minutes. It is simply too long.

Bane begins mundanely – four very distinct women (one smart hero, one aggressive, one nervous geek and one crying, wimpy twit) wonder where they are and why they’ve been held captive. They are forcibly questioned and thrown into gruelling psychological experiments, and for the most part it’s drudging, slow stuff. Then, at 40 minutes in, Bane gets weird. Very weird, and it peaks your interest after a very banal and expected beginning, until it spirals into all levels of absurdity and silliness as it cascades madly towards it’s conclusion.

Clearly made on a micro-budget – the set is a load of plastic sheeting pinned to some flimsy metal fencing and presented to us as an inescapable prison – Bane never pretends to be anything better than that. James Eaves does a very good job with the materials he has, and it’s directed / edited well throughout, but you wish someone had pumped some more money into it, because the cheapness is incredibly distracting. Some people will be sucked into this claustrophobic world and thoroughly enjoy it, but most will be left cold.

The women’s captors are also absolutely ridiculous, featuring a creepy, hobbling doctor with a cane, some random extras in “biohazard suits” that’ve clearly been bought from B&Q’s redecorating department and a handsome guy with floppy brown hair in some camo trousers. It simply looks and feels incredibly cheap.

The majority of the acting is stilted and amateurish, meaning some of the more dramatic moments are laughably bad, and you chuckle awkwardly as people are hurt or killed, feeling sorry for the actresses involved. Where Eaves excels in directing, his script needs major work and the dialogue feels awkward and unrealistic (although this – too – could be the fault of the actors involved).

Admittedly, Bane has quite a few things going for it – Eaves regular Tina Barnes is superb, the sound is smartly intrusive, the premise is wondefully unique, it is surprisingly tense at times and you are forced to be intrigued simply because it’s absolutely baffling throughout. This is – again – due to Eaves’ clear passion for the material, but no matter how hard he tries he cannot polish this.

Overall Bane is tiresome but passionately made. It is transparently low-budget and woefully acted in places, and far far too long. When a horror film peaks the 100 minute mark it has to be compelling and stunning, but at 110 minutes Bane does not achieve this. It fails miserably to compel. Despite being genuinely intriguing, well directed and occasionally very tense, Bane is perhaps not worthy of your time… especially nearly two hours of it…

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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