GIRL GONE BAD tells the story of a teenage girl left alone for a weekend who turns the tables on an intruder and puts a real damper on his weekend plans. It’s the kind of film that, in an elevator pitch, might appeal to modern audiences: female-lead, victim-becomes-empowered; high-action gore-fest. The film’s trailer even does a fine job convincing potential audiences that’s what they’ll see. However, in the case of this home-invasion “thriller,” there are too many plots in the kitchen, as it were, and none of them are particularly exciting.
In GIRL GONE BAD, writer/director Kevin Schultz (SUBJECT 17) attempts to relay a story of female empowerment and victims turning the tables on their tormentors. Unfortunately, the film is tethered to unforgivably poor decision-making by its characters, repetitive, banal dialogue, and a complete lack of tension or suspense. After an efficient and surprising opening sequence, the film’s story quickly descends into working too hard to try and flip tropes we’ve seen a million times on their head. In the end, there are so many trope flips and plot twists it’s a wonder audiences don’t leave with whiplash.
As Samantha, our heroin-gone-bad, Alison Thornton (DARE ME) delivers an appropriate performance as a 16-year-old, who’s been given little to work with. While the character is confusing and her motives are ever-changing and unclear, Thornton does her best to brave these muddy waters and allows for a lead character who’s at least followable. Her pursuer, Les, portrayed by Nemo Cartwright (A HUMAN PLANET), manages to make a couple of strong choices throughout, which is a wonder considering the dialogue he’s been burdened with.
While the cinematography by James Clark is interesting, the film decides to cut away from its more gruesome moments — perhaps due to budgetary restraints — which is effective the first couple of times but becomes frustrating and repetitive at a point.
GIRL GONE BAD, originally entitled GUILTLESS, is an unfortunate circumstance of attempting too many themes without clearly stating any of them. Our lead, Samantha, is never given a fair chance at conveying why she makes her choices. She simply does, and we’re expected to go along with them. Distracting flashbacks do little to back up her decision-making, and we’re left with uninteresting back-and-forths between her and her assailant. The assailant’s motives are just as confusing and distracting. In the end, audiences are left with no one to sympathize with and no one to root for.
GIRL GONE BAD is the unfortunate sort of movie that leaves audiences scratching their heads and wanting their 91 minutes back. Heed this warning: the film’s title says it all.
GIRL GONE BAD is available to miss on VOD.