August 24, 2023

GENRE | 'Bad Things' – A Queer 'Shining' on Shudder

" I do bad things sometimes."
Gayle Rankin Stewart Thorndike | Bad Things | Shudder
The Space Program
Genre indie filmmaker Stewart Thorndike directs her own transgressively queer twist on The Shining in the single-location, hotel-set slasher flick Bad Things. Her fresh take on Stanley Kubrick's classic adaptation of Stephen King's supernatural horror tale finds an interesting lane into its out-and-out homosexual bent on the material.

Shot mostly in daylight, the 1980s-inspired lo-fi film stars Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, and Rad Pereira as friends and (ex-)lovers who spend the weekend at a deserted, non-operational Comley Hotel in disrepair and newly inherited by Rankin's Ruthie, who is unsure of what to do with it. Complicating matters are her traumatic childhood memories of the place and its possible haunting by the ghosts of former guests who have died there over the years.

As you might expect, strange things start to happen that split the foursome as we question what is real or violently imagined. Pop culture icon Molly Ringwald shows up as Ruthie's mysteriously absent mom to inject a further sense of dread while playing off our nostalgic familiarity with her unmistakable screen presence.

Thorndike blends horror delusion with stark reality fluidly to question Ruthie's state of mind as unclear but gruesome murders occur at the sleepy hotel in the snowy town they are visiting. Rankin's unsettling transformation mirroring Jack Torrance turns the film's violence into an intriguing manifestation of internalized trauma.

Bad Things is available to stream on both Shudder and AMC+.

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