“Bitch Ass”

“Bitch Ass” is a simple, brutal horror film from director and co-writer Bill Posley. The title may be silly, but this isn’t a comedy. The film has a fun retro horror vibe and tone with a very simple setup and premise. There isn’t much to the story, but what elevates the film is its original style.

Set in 1980, the film tells the story of Cecil (Jarvis Denman Jr.), a young boy who is mercilessly bullied by a local gang for being shy, overweight, and obsessed with playing board games with his grandmother. He earns the nickname Bitch Ass and is taunted by his peers. One night, Cecil is attacked by the gang during an initiation ritual and is left for dead. Not another word was heard from the boy since.

Fast forward to 1999. Bitch Ass (Tunde Laleye) has become an urban legend, a shadowy figure who supposedly kills bad folks and terrorizes the neighborhood. It’s time for a new gang initiation night, and the crew is ordered to rob a house. Too bad they don’t know that the very home they’re trying to rip off is the one that belongs to Bitch Ass and his granny — and he’s been using all those years to plot his revenge. All grown up and bitter towards those who wronged him in the past, the man makes every member of the gang play a childhood game with him. If they win, they live. If they lose, they die.

The story is a bit of “Saw” and “Squid Game” mixed with late 80s old school slasher flicks. Playing children’s games with a deadly twist is a very straight forward idea, but what makes it so compelling is Posley’s original, distinct filmmaking style. He is fantastic at setting the time period and presenting a cohesive vision.

Posley (and co-writer Jonathan Colomb) set the film in a black neighborhood (with an all-black cast, including Teon Kelley, Sheaun McKinney, Belle Guillory, A-F-R-O, and Me’lisa Sellers), giving another layer of representation to the story. There isn’t much time spent with the supporting characters, but they still feel fully developed, even with their brief appearances on screen.

The dialogue is clunky and the eventual outcome predictable, and the script only touches the surface of the weighty themes that are raised (like the cyclical nature of abuse, and a bullied kid who grew up into a sadistic adult). It’s the visual, cinematic language that’s the star.

Story-wise, I wish “Bitch Ass” was a bit more creative — but how can you not like a horror character with a name like that?

By: Louisa Moore

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