Director: Carl Lindbergh
Year of release: 2017
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 91 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Nothing will stop him".
Also known as: Bunnyman: Suffer the Children
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: This third and apparently final entry in the Bunnyman franchise sheds some light on the monsters origins as it reunites the silent killer with three figures from his past.
After a murder out on a desolate open road Bunnyman is apprehended by a local law enforcer only to be rescued by a gentleman in a passing car who mows the policeman down. The motorist as it transpires is actually someone Bunnyman grew up with at a nearby ranch. Here we find a trio of brothers, the sociopathic pair of John and Carl and their younger gentle more slow witted sibling Jacob who are as close to family as Bunnyman knows. We quickly learn however that far from being a loving environment it was in fact the psychotic John who was years ago responsible for Bunnyman’s horrific facial burns. Referred to as Michael by those at the ranch we learn that Bunnyman’s real family were presumably killed years ago by a then teenage John and Carl with Michael himself then set alight and left for dead. An infant Jacob later came to the rescue to smother the flames with Michael then seemingly growing up under the care of the older brothers as a sort of slave/pet monster.
Now in the present day John and Carl are looking to set up a haunted house carnival attraction at their dilapidated ranch. With Michael/Bunnyman now back in the fold the brothers plan to utilise him as a star attraction as part of the exhibit. Michael has now become so deranged and unpredictable however that the brothers find they have difficulty keeping him in check as they once did.
Good points: *The set of the ranch and haunted house where a large part of the action takes place is visually impressive with many disconcerting objects and imagery on display. Adding to the at times surreal décor is a messy and grimy look to things which adds to the unsettling sense of menace. The film certainly carries an artistic flair in this area. Director Carl Lindbergh has a talent for this elsewhere as well with the cinematography for example with effective establishing shots etc.
In addition the dream sequence about half way through while a bit jarring and out of place in some ways undeniably showcases some originality and artistic merit. The dream scene certainly made me sit up and take notice if nothing else. At this point I also enjoyed the song used over the top of the bizarre visuals.
*Note: This next point would ideally have been mentioned upon introduction in the first film but seeing that this is my first Bunnyman review I’ll instead talk about it here.
I like the costume of the rabbit suit which gives Michael something of a distinct look. Not that we haven’t seen similar style bunny outfits before particularly in Easter themed slashers so I realise it’s not at all original but it does the job. I also like how throughout the franchise Michael will take his mask off on occasion to give us a glimpse of what’s underneath. This may not have happened as much specifically in this entry but instead we got the footage of a younger Michael sans costume near the beginning.
The costume would be more effective if there were actually a concrete reason for Michael to have chosen to wear it which I know is a criticism others have had about the franchise in the past. I agree as it does seem very random but I’ll make allowances to some extent seeing that it is a very decent costume albeit one without an explanation.
Possibly some effort was made back in the first two films to at least partially try and explain the reason for the outfit. As I recall we did get picture montages/home video type footage at the end of the two previous features as well as something similar at the beginning of part two. Unfortunately said material was very vague and it was unclear as to what they were trying to put across.
*The majority of the time the deaths were highlights with a lot of variety in terms of how victims were dispatched. In addition to Bunnyman’s favoured chainsaw we also have quite a few gun related deaths this time as well as burnings, a bludgeoning, plus the more traditional throat cut and impaling style kills. For a lower budget production they mostly do a good job as far as how things look. A few dodgy CGI effects do crop up here and there but nothing too bad to ruin the experience.
* I appreciate how they try to give us a bit more background on the killers origins. I would like to have learned more about his true family who presumably fell victim to an adolescent John and Carl but at least we had an explanation for his ruined face if nothing else. This explanation also of course introduced some new characters. As a new and extra bad guy John was suitably intimidating and evil in nature which was nicely offset with the gentle kinder hearted Jacob who brought out a softer side of Michael.
Bad Points: *As has been the case with the previous films Vengeance takes the less travelled route of not having a final girl or core group of protagonists that we follow. Instead it puts more of a focus on the killer. Though an interesting approach I find this deviation from the standard formula to be the biggest failing of the franchise. It unfortunately comes off as merely a bunch of random and mostly female characters being done away with that we aren’t invested in. We aren’t given enough cause to care. This one was slightly better than the others in this area as Jacob is someone we can buy into and even Michael himself is this time cast in a more tragic sympathetic light so we have this pair uniting against the older brothers to some extent. It’s a step in the right direction but a true final girl/boy in the traditional sense would probably have worked better.
*Spoiler: The couple of deaths in the torture room featuring one of the older brothers (John I think?) were a bit silly. One woman is tricked into drinking acid which you would think would instantly start burning her mouth and throat but it seems to weirdly have a delayed effect and only start eating away at her once it goes further down into her stomach area. I don’t know anything about acid so perhaps it functions on a delay sometimes but I wouldn’t think so.
Regarding the second woman in this scene I thought it was too unlikely that the Tarantula would crawl so readily into her mouth. Why would she even have her mouth open at that moment? It would have worked better if John had pinched her nostrils shut and then popped the spider into her mouth when she opened it to breathe.
If nit picking a bit further then the brothers were unrealistically careless with killing so many random hikers as too many disappearances in the area would surely attract unwanted attention. They never seemed overly concerned with cleaning up DNA etc either as it was instead implied they simply left that side of things to the dim witted Jacob.
*I was never completely sure what John and Carl were trying to achieve with the haunted house attraction. Though the gothic architecture looked good they didn’t seem to have any proper exhibits to speak of aside from Michael. They were supposedly planning it before his arrival though so should have had more attractions planned. Maybe a ghost train or something similar. I suppose budgetary restrictions may have come into play here but fellow low budget film Haunted Ween did a better job with similar material. To clarify I mean a better job in putting the house across as a tourist attraction. Vengeance is in my opinion a better film overall than Haunted Ween.
Mild spoiler: Another issue with the ranch attraction was that it wasn’t clear if the brothers intended for Michael to start killing the customers or if he just did that off his own bat. I would suspect he wasn’t supposed to do it or maybe he was but not as many and at a later time but it wasn’t as easy to tell as it should have been with how it was scripted.
*Budgetary restrictions perhaps also came into play towards the end with the vehicle chase scene. It seemed too slow and conjured up bad memories from the first movie.
Verdict: If this does prove to be the last in the franchise I think it’s safe to say they saved the best until last. That’s not saying an awful lot I know seeing that the previous two films weren’t too good but I found this entry to be more engaging as it held my interest all the way through.
Although they don’t go into as much detail as I would have liked it’s nice we get some background information on the killers origins. Despite being slightly unclear these inclusions mostly work. Once again there is no final girl which hinders the experience but at least we get Jacob as a kind of watered down final boy with Bunnyman himself also seen as less of a villain this time. Some decent variety with the kills helps it along as does some artistic flair from director Carl Lindbergh. Though budgetary issues do rear their ugly head in places it’s mostly a good looking film.
It will probably only appeal to those who have seen and enjoyed the first two which is likely a limited number but as the stronger of the three films this perhaps deserves a broader audience.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Young boy: Stamped to death by Bunnyman while in a sack.
2) Policeman: Run over by a car by one of the older brothers.
3) Female backpacker: Shot with sniper rifle by one of the brothers.
4) Female camper #1: Machete thrown at her neck by Bunnyman.
5) Female camper #2: Impaled on a tent pole by Bunnyman.
6) Female camper #3: Thrown down a well and finished off with a heavy object (a tyre?) being thrown down on top of her. (Bunnyman).
7) Female camper #4: Stomach burned through after being tricked into drinking acid. (Brother)
8) Female camper #5: Shot with a shotgun blast to the head by Bunnyman. He saved her from being tortured further however by brother (John?) and the spiders.
9) Male drop in: Shovel handle thrust through throat.
10) Female drop in #1: Stabbed under chin by one of the brothers.
11) Female drop in #2: Throat cut by one of the brothers.
12) Haunted house customer #1: Fingers cut off and head savaged with chainsaw (Bunnyman).
13) Haunted house customer #2: Face pushed into chainsaw by Bunnyman.
14) Through to 18): All killed off camera and seen dead on the floor of haunted house corridor.
19) Woman outside haunted house: Shot with handgun (By Carl I think).
20) Jacob: Shot in the back of the head by John.
21) Carl: Head bashed in at the junkyard with a big bulky object by Bunnyman.
22) John: Handcuffed to vehicle bumper and then set on fire by Bunnyman.