Bitch Ass (
directed by Bill Posley
starring Teon Kelley, Me’lisa Sellers, Tunde Laleye, Kelsey Caesar
A promising opening sees the Candyman himself Tony Todd playing a TV horror host purporting to be introducing the latest in his Hood Movie Horror Nights. After name checking Blacula, Bones, People Under the Stairs and Candyman itself Todd, channelling a particularly fruity Vincent Price, introduces the Bitch Ass character and the camera pans to a battered VHS copy of the film and a TV set showers static across an FBI copyright warning and the movie begins with a slow zoom into the television screen. Everything is set for a knowingly retro slasher, embracing the aesthetics of the VHS era and ready to introduce a new icon to a genre that has been referred to as ‘horror noire’. Unfortunately, from this point in nothing really clicks.
Back in 1980 Cecil, an innocent school kid, is relentlessly bullied by his peers for being overweight and awkward and being obsessed with playing board games. They nickname him Bitch Ass. After a gang initiation goes wrong Cecil is left for dead and nobody sees him again. Fast forward to 1999 and Cecil has become an urban legend, never seen but suspected to live as an embittered recluse at his grandmother’s house. When the local gang leader hears that the grandmother has died he tasks his latest recruits to prove themselves by stealing the treasures he suspects are hidden inside. No surprise at all that Cecil is waiting for them.
What follows is a mix of Saw, Don’t Breathe and Escape Room as Bitch Ass hunts down the hapless intruders and traps them into playing nightmare versions of children’s games like Jenga and Connect Four. That these deadly contraptions are kind of wonky and home made looking is one of the few aesthetic choices the movie gets right. The guillotine edged Connect Four grid looks like it really was made by a weird recluse hell bent on eventual vengeance. The rest of the set just looks cheap. There are some strange decisions too in terms of aspect ratio which switches from widescreen to split screen seemingly on a whim and with onscreen graphics flashing up trading card style images of the characters as they are taken down one by one, the whole viewing experience is a confusing mess.
The acting is adequate given the somewhat cumbersome dialogue that lacks the wit required to elevate familiar scenes of youths in peril. Bitch Ass himself is much more interesting in his flashbacked teens than he is as the lumbering, and not particularly scary killer. It’s a shame because there is potential here but the movie comes over as a sketch for what might have been. If Bitch Ass is to return and develop into a horror franchise it needs a hard reboot right from the off.
Main Image Tunde Laleye as Bitch Ass
Bitch Ass premiered at SXSW.