But as the kidnappers await the ransom, little do they know that their troubles have just begun. It seems the area they're in is the "killing fields," so to speak, of a supernatural entity who has risen annually for more than two decades to consume its human prey on the first day of spring. And guess what today is. As night falls, the creature arises, hot in pursuit of a woman named Rachel (Anessa Ramsey) who's had her own streak of bad luck recently. Her world collides with that of the kidnappers, and all involved must put aside their differences in order to survive the onslaught to come.
The End Result
The result is a final product full of tepid scares, unanswered questions and viewer frustration that will no doubt reach a boil during an ending so abrupt and inconclusive it will have you wondering if something is wrong with the print you're watching. I've read that Reynolds hopes to make at least one, if not two sequels to Rites of Spring, and while I appreciate the difficulty of trying to wow your audience while not revealing your entire hand, but the movie just feels incomplete. Worse, it's downright pedestrian. Other than a couple of nice gore effects, its execution is standard horror stuff that doesn't do the creepiness of the concept -- sort of Jeepers Creepers meets Malevolence meets The Wicker Man -- justice.
The (inevitable?) sequel(s) might end up fulfilling its promise, but by underperforming at the outset, Rites of Spring hardly leaves us wanting more.
- Acting: C+ (Bowen and Ramsey are engaging; the rest less so.)
- Direction: D+ (Fails to generate scares commensurate with the setup.)
- Script: D (Leaves us feeling cheated, like only half a story.)
- Gore/Effects: B- (Good creature effects and a couple of well-done gore scenes.)
- Overall: C- (Rife with potential only partially fulfilled.)
Rites of Spring is directed by Padraig Reynolds and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: July 27, 2012 (in theaters and on demand).